Students and faculty
take classroom experiences global in GIEU program
Andrea Coronil could write a book about her experiences last summer.
But she found a simple piece of paper says just as much.
Coronil, an LS&A student from Ann Arbor, recalled a day she
spent as a volunteer in a children’s youth center in Oaxaca,
Mexico, as part of the Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates
(GIEU). One of the women working there was feeling down, she says,
and the group later found out the woman’s eldest son was missing.
Coronil and another volunteer made a simple flier to post in downtown
Oaxaca, where children often go to sell goods and where the woman’s
son was last seen.
|Andrea Coronil, an LS&A student
from Ann Arbor, spends time with a child in Oaxaca, Mexico.
(Photo courtesy of GIEU)
"She had to carry on and could not just drop everything and
look for her son or call the police. She had to keep working to
make sure the other kids were fed,” Coronil says. "I
guess it is a pretty unusual practice to put up a flier there, but
people became really curious and were asking questions and were
concerned. Even a few days later, a couple of people recognized
us and asked if (her son) was okay.”
The boy was found later, and the ordeal contributed to Coronil’s
rich experience with GIEU.
She and three other U-M students and two faculty members spent several
weeks in Oaxaca. They were part of a pilot group of 30 students
and nine faculty who traveled to field sites around the world to
experience a program designed to teach students first-hand about
Lester Monts, senior vice provost for Academic
Affairs, created the program. It enables small groups of undergraduates,
led by a faculty member or program leader, to learn in rich cultural
environments and to gain a greater understanding of global situations
At the GIEU’s first symposium Sept. 19, students and faculty
recalled experiences from their summer trips. Information was available
to students and faculty interested in signing up for 2003.
In addition to Oaxaca, teams of students and faculty members also
traveled to Senegal, Honduras, Toronto, Ghana and Detroit as part
of GIEU’s inaugural class of 2002.
"U-M is very much at the forefront of global education in this
country, but we need to do more,” says Linda Gillum, assistant
provost for academic affairs, who says the program is funded completely
by the provost’s office. "We are delighted we had the
success we did in the first year. We had really special students
traveling with us last year and look forward to a new group joining
us next year.”
Faculty interested in sponsoring a trip must submit a proposal before
Oct. 16. The proposal must contain several items, including project
design and implementation, impact on learning, continuation and
"The learning the faculty do on these trips, and their experiences,
we hope will spill out into their coursework and the interactions
that happen here on campus,” says A.T. Miller, coordinator
of multicultural teaching and learning services for the Center for
Research on Learning and Teaching. "We try and encourage programs
that include this back-and-forth kind of learning.”
Students must apply before Nov. 18 and will participate in a process
that includes winter informational meetings, orientation, the three-
to four-week field experience, a debriefing and a fall symposium.
A reception is scheduled for mid-December to match small groups
of students with faculty members and to begin planning for the field
experiences. Miller expects GIEU to sponsor eight to 10 field sites
for 2003, with 80 students participating next summer.
Most of the students who traveled last summer say they learned more
than they ever could in a classroom. Their experiences included
learning about health care in Mexico, teaching new farming methods
in Honduras, living with and studying the lives of Latino youth
in Toronto, and visiting inner-city Detroit.
"I feel this is really the way education should be done,”
says Jacqueline Bray, an LS&A student from Ridgewood, N.J.,
and one of seven students who went to inner-city Detroit. "We
need to read all of the books and study all of the theories, but
we also need to put that into the context of a community and see
the ways in which culturally, economically, socially and politically,
those communities are changed by an ever-increasing global world.”
One faculty-student team brought its field experience back to campus
for the symposium. Faculty member Carol Richardson and Alex Chadsey,
a jazz student in the School of Music, traveled to Ghana. They performed
two traditional songs during the symposium, outfitted in full African
Richardson, associate professor in the School of Music, said none
of the songs they learned from the tribe were written down, and
the visitors wrote down nothing they learned from the group. They
simply played music together, she says.
Marcia Lee, part of the Honduras team, says she felt "privileged
and blessed” after seeing the conditions of mountain farmers.
Many had small houses with wooden planks bunched together, but no
roof. There was little time to fix them, she says, as most of the
farmers spent their days tending to crops of beans, rice and corn.
"Every (field) site offers something different,” Lee,
an LS&A student from Mount Pleasant, Mich., told students interested
in making similar trips next summer. "Prepare yourself before
you go. Think about the country and yourself before you go, and
think about how (your perception) has changed after you come back.”
For more information on GIEU, including an application and information
on financial aid, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org
or visit http://www.umich.edu/~oami/gieu.