By Macaire Grobe
There are a lot of things that make Union unique and different from other liberal arts colleges, like our trimester system and our Minerva house system.
This also includes the chance to study abroad, not only for a whole term like other colleges offer, but also for a condensed experience in a foreign country, without some of the hassles of a complete term abroad.
Students can choose from a broad range of locations including Argentina, Bali, Egypt, France, India, New Zealand, South Africa and Thailand, some of the most exotic places the world has to offer in terms of culture and history.
These mini-terms occur just before the winter term and during the summer, which means a new group of Union students have just returned from every corner of the world.
They had the opportunity to study human rights, social justice, performing arts, ancient history, art, Indian politics and culture, environmental studies, Thai politics and Buddhism, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
However, these students didn’t sit at a desk in a classroom to sit through an hour-long lecture, like most of us are used to.
Rather than sitting in a lecture hall and seeing a PowerPoint presentation of photographs of lost empires, students were lucky enough to see them with their own eyes.
Rather than listening to a Rosetta Stone recording in a different language, they learned by speaking to locals.
And rather than read a book about the culture of a nation, students immersed themselves in someone else’s way of life.
In the words of Engineering Professor Ashraf M. Ghaly, who lead this year’s Egyptian mini-term, “The trip is a live history lesson that, instead of one receiving the information while sitting in a classroom, one walks through the aisles and corridors where history was made and see and touch the walls where kings, queens, saints, and prophets created that history.”
History Professor Teresa Meade, who leads the Argentina mini-term, agrees when she says, “I think we all benefitted from the first-hand experience and learned that the cause of human rights, and the social movements that support those rights, is very alive.”
Brian Daley ‘13 said, “The Argentina mini-term was a trip that has changed my life. Having the opportunity to leave the country and learn from professors, political figures and authors from another country was very interesting. After participating in the Argentina mini-term, I have definitely broadened my horizons as a student and a person.”
These mini-terms are an effective way to not only get students interested in the material they are studying, but also to put them in the heart of the issues and events that these studies revolve around.