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PSS Spring '09 - The Houghton House Renaissance

Faculty-led International Study

Gazing at Giza

HWS students and faculy
spend 11 days in Cairo.

HWS students and faculy spend 11 days in Cairo.

For 19 HWS students, a summer political science course - "The Political Economy of Development in Egypt" - included an extraordinary three week trip in Egypt.

After reading about the region and completing a paper, the group studied and traveled with Assistant Professors of Political Science Vikash Yadav and Stacey Philbrick Yadav. The abroad experience included 11 days in Cairo as well as time in rural areas, where students learned about a range of development initiatives and challenges through lectures, site visits, readings and writing assignments.

Students heard from experts on topics ranging from protests organized via social networks to the wide range of Islamist and pietist groups in contemporary Egypt. They also studied the country's tourism industry firsthand.

"The abroad trip to Egypt was exceptional," reflects Alex Khaddar '10. "I will never forget the combination of intensive study and cultural immersion. I walked away with an informed perspective of a very complex and unique country."

Each student developed a thesis and had one-on-one meetings with both Vikash
and Stacey to facilitate the research and writing processes. "I couldn't imagine better professors," says Melissa Backus '10

Bridging the Gap Between East and West

Miller, Bhasin and
Williamson in Japan.

Miller, Bhasin and Williamson in Japan.

"There are some places that you feel you must go back to someday," says Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric Neeta Bhasin. "Japan is one of those places."

Bhasin traveled this summer to Technos International Week in Japan with Sasha Miller '12 and Morgan Williamson '12.

A cross-cultural exchange program sponsored by Technos International College and the Tanaka Ikueikai Educational Trust, Technos International Week was created in 1992 thanks to the generosity of the Tanaka family and the Tanaka Memorial Foundation. Annual sponsorship of the exchange program - designed for two first- or second-year students and a faculty member - is the outgrowth of a vital friendship nearly two decades old between the Colleges and the Tanaka family.

"It was a wonderful experience," says Bhasin. ?We developed a strong attachment to the people we met in Japan, and many of us are keeping in touch - a testament to Technos International Week's ability to bridge gaps that remain between East and West."

The Relationship Between Waste and Recycling - In China

A visit to the Bao steel plant in Shanghai.

A visit to the Bao steel plant in Shanghai.

A summer trip to China was "a real eyeopener" for seven students who traveled throughout the country with Assistant Professor of Environmental Studies Darrin Magee and Associate Professor of Economics Tom Drennen.

As part of "Sustainable China," an international summer course about environmental issues funded by the Freeman Foundation, the group began their studies in Beijing at the city's largest materials recycling market.

"I can talk about recycling in class, but it's another thing entirely to take students to a recycling center like this," says Magee.

While abroad, the group studied Chinese language and culture, including painting and music, and stayed in an environmental education center to experience rural village life. They rounded out their three-week visit in Shanghai. Throughout the course, students met regularly with Magee and local experts to discuss changes occurring in contemporary China and their ramifications on human and environmental health.

"This was probably the best learning experience I've had," says Trevor Gionet '12. "China is on the forefront of environmental sustainability - not necessarily because they want to help the environment but because it is a necessity for them."

A Month in Modern Siberia

A day of research on Lake Baikal

A day of research on Lake Baikal.

In June, 17 students and three HWS faculty members, Associate Professor of Anthropology Jeffrey Anderson, Assistant Professor of Biology Meghan Brown and Assistant Professor of Russian Area Studies Kristen Welsh, endured a 38-hour flight to study the ecology and culture of Siberia firsthand.

In preparation for the trip, funded by a grant from the Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Short-Term Seminar Program, students took a Reader's College - "Modern Siberia: An Introduction" - to increase their grasp of history, culture, economics and the environment.

After touring Moscow, the group flew to Irkutsk for two weeks of intensive language and cultural study. Students also studied ecotourism and limnology on Lake Baikal, the oldest and deepest lake on Earth, and visited Bolshoe Goloustnoe, a tiny village on the lake, where they volunteered with an international non-profit promoting low-impact ecotourism and in a local school.

"It was fascinating to see the transformation of other people on the trip, to see us fitting into the culture - or trying to the best of our ability," says Tyler Wood '10.

"This abroad experience encompassed some of the richest aspects of HWS"? says Welsh. "It was interdisciplinary, it was global, it was service-oriented."