Global fall study sites: Nepal, England’s Oxford University and a research ship in the Caribbean
Director Peggy Imai says pandemic can't keep Saint Michael's students from rich international academic experiences; returnees were in Kenya, Spain, Iceland, Himalayas; one group did virtual Vietnam internships
Peggy Imai, director of Saint Michael’s College’s Study Abroad Office, recently shared with faculty about students heading out this fall 2021 semester for exciting study-abroad programs, and also about those freshly returning with new perspectives and insights to enrich classes.
In a campus-wide email Monday after the first day of classes, Imai noted that several people had stopped by her office and commented “on the renewed life and energy they felt around campus.”
Imai reminded faculty that “four students are returning to your classrooms after having been abroad in the spring. Alexyah Dethvongsa (Nepal), Maeve Kolb (Kenya), Ellen McKenna (Spain), and Olivia Hansen (Iceland) have incredible stories and insights to share with you and their classmates. Please welcome these extraordinary women back to campus, and if time permits, inquire about their time abroad.”
According to the Study Abroad director, “the number “4” seems to have special meaning this year, as we have four students studying abroad during the fall semester. Abby Poisson and Kyle Pickus are both heading to Nepal, while Gareth Owens will be attending classes at Oxford University, and Nadia Racz will be on a research vessel learning about coral reef ecosystems in the Caribbean. Exciting? You betcha!”
Imai mentioned that while public health concerns prevented Saint Michael’s from sending students to Asia this summer through the Freeman Grant Foundation, the College nevertheless was able to support as an alternative 12 students who were able to participate in virtual internships with organizations based in Vietnam. “The internships provided students with unique opportunities to work on projects related to their fields of study, along with a chance to experience international work and cooperation in the virtual world,” she said.
Given the unusual times we live in with the COVID pandemic and its limitations on so many aspects of life including travel, Imai told faculty she also was writing “to assure you that the Study Abroad Office and is alive and well.”
“COVID-19 has certainly influenced what we do and how we do it, but we remain steadfast in our support of students seeking to expand their world views,” Imai said. “We are continuing to work with faculty and staff who hope to lead academic study trips next summer and 35 students have active study abroad applications on file for SP2022.”
“Naturally, much of what happens in the coming months is virus dependent,” Imai acknowledged, “but I remain cautiously optimistic … Now more than ever, I appreciate your support and continued encouragement. The pre-COVID days seem like a lifetime ago, but during this unexpected journey, I’ve learned a lot about resilience and our collective ability to get things done.”
Imai concluded her message to faculty on an upbeat: “I look forward to days ahead without masks, with more spontaneous hugs, and with clear views of your smiling faces! I wish you all a fantastic start to the semester and best wishes for an academic year filled with well-deserved successes.”