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Let Your Mind Wander
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A newsletter for study abroad returnees, highlighting stories, information, and events to inspire you to continue building on your international experience.
Did you know IAP has resources for students returning from study abroad? Check it out online. Join us for events like Global Cafe, International Trivia Night, and volunteering at the Study Abroad Fair (fall) or orientation events (fall/spring). Be in the know on international related opportunities and follow what young alumni have done after their study abroad in our monthly newsletter - Badgers Beyond Abroad.
IAP EVENTS & ANNOUNCEMENTS
Congratulations Photo Contest Winners!

Thank you to all who submitted work and voted on our Facebook page for the 2018 IAP Study Abroad Photo Contest. From a large number of high-quality photos from study abroad participants all around the world, these are some incredibly well captured images we are happy to see and share.

See winners an honorable mentions online.

Featured: "SquadAbroad"
Photographer: Willian Kerwin - France Academic Program in Aix-en-Provence
Photo Location: Brussels, Belgium
Description: Reunited with close friends in Brussels, and took a picture in the historical city park, overlooking the city, on our final day together! Pictured: William Kerwin, David O'Keeffe, Jonathan Brown, John Bruckbauer.
OPPORTUNITIES

TESOL Certificate through the UW-Madison English Department
Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages Certificate Program

Information from TESOL Certificate Coordinator Janet Niewold below, and additional information available at the website esl.wisc.edu/tesol.

The UW-Madison English Department has offered a Certificate in TESOL [Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages] to prepare prospective ESL teachers since 1968.

The program is well-respected for the training it provides in both theory and practice. Certificate holders report feeling prepared and confident for overseas English-teaching jobs and they are recognized for their knowledge and teaching skills by employers, peers and students.

Program graduates are teaching in Spain, Turkey, Tasmania, Thailand, Colombia, Ecuador, Korea, China and many other countries.

For more, contact Professor Eric Raimy at raimy@wisc.edu or Janet Niewold, the TESOL Certificate Coordinator at jkniewold@wisc.edu.

ALUMNI FEATURE  
Kendra Burpee | MOROCCO AND TURKEY

"Study abroad deepened my belief in the power of public diplomacy and it encouraged me
to embrace cultural diversity." - Kendra Burpee

Photos: Kendra when she swore in as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Republic of Georgia (July 2017). And below, (Read More) Kendra in the Sahara Desert when studying abroad in Morocco (October 2013).

 


What have you been doing since completing your study abroad program(s)?
After completing my study abroad programs in Istanbul, Turkey and Fez, Morocco, I graduated with a degree in Languages and Cultures of Asia. I then moved back to Turkey on a Fulbright Scholarship to teach English speaking classes to staff and freshman students at a large university near the Aegean Sea coast. It was an incredible opportunity to live in Turkey yet again and to continue to improve my Turkish.

After that, I moved back to New York, where I’m from, to work at an intercultural education non profit called AFS-USA. I worked as an adviser for two State Department-sponsored exchange programs for high school students, one of which I had participated in myself before enrolling at UW-Madison. At this time I also made the decision to apply for the Peace Corps. I am now living in the Republic of Georgia as a Peace Corps English Education Volunteer.

Starting [September 2017], I [began] teaching English in a K-12 public school in a small town in the mountains. I also recently accepted a position working with the non-profit GLOW (Girls Leading Our World) Georgia on the Recruitment team. I will be working to promote GLOW in rural and under-served communities throughout Georgia, in addition to training and supporting counselors.

A reflection on your study abroad experience: How did your time overseas impact your life, your goals, and your career?
Study abroad deepened my belief in the power of public diplomacy and it encouraged me to embrace cultural diversity. My time in Turkey and Morocco taught me the importance of human relationships in promoting peace and understanding, and I have carried this lesson into my work since graduation.

As a result, I have my spent all of my time after UW-Madison either living and working abroad, or back in the States advocating for international exchanges. Although I am now learning Georgian, my Arabic and Turkish studies from UW-Madison opened up many professional doors for me and put me on my current path. I joined the Peace Corps to continue to promote world peace and friendship through people-to-people connections.

Share with us a favorite memory from your study abroad days.
One of my favorite memories while studying abroad was my weekend camping in the Sahara Desert. It included riding a camel through a sandstorm, holding a wild baby fennec fox, and watching the sunrise from the top of a sand dune.

What advice do you have for students returning from abroad?
1) Continue to treat every day as an adventure
One of the best parts of studying abroad is that you are constantly meeting new people and exploring new places. But that doesn’t have to stop once you return to campus! Continue to put yourself outside of your comfort zone and get to know people different than yourself, try new foods, and learn something new every day.

2) Be an ambassador
Be an ambassador for the country you just left - cook the local foods you miss for your friends, share your photos and stories, and give presentations in your classes or at your local high school. And be an ambassador for study abroad. Encourage and inspire others to seek out opportunities to travel and get to know their global community.



Interview conducted via email August 2017.
ALUMNI FEATURE  
Kyle Walsh | GHANA

"It’s still impossible for me to sum up my study abroad experience, and it’s difficult to believe that it’s been 8 years. Not only did I meet new people, try new food, learn (bits and pieces of) a new language, and travel to places I never imagined, but I developed a new identity." - Kyle Walsh

Photos: Kyle in Ghana at the Beacon House Orphanage. And below (Read More), Kyle reading on the roof at his current school (spending the entire day reading through the building, and even on the roof!)

 

What have you been doing since completing your study abroad program?
Since returning from my study abroad program in the fall of 2009 in Legon, Ghana, I have earned my undergraduate degree in Elementary Education (2012), and finished graduate degrees in Curriculum and Instruction (‘14) and Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis (‘16).

After graduating in 2012, I began teaching first grade at Sugar Creek Elementary for the Verona Area School District. While teaching, we made sure to have fun every single day. We really enjoyed making music videos that ended up playing a significant role in our learning (check out “If You Want to Be a Reader” and “Sugar Day” on YouTube).

I knew I wanted to continue learning of my own, so I started graduate work in ESL and Curriculum and Instruction at UW. Shortly after- because I really didn’t want to leave UW- I started work in the department of Educational Leadership and Policy Analysis, which eventually led me to taking an elementary principal position in the Pecatonica Area School District (about 40 minutes southwest of Madison).

A reflection on your study abroad experience: How did your time overseas impact your life, your goals, and your career?
Looking back on my college experience, studying abroad really did have the most significant impact on my life, goals, career, and perspective on just about everything. Before starting school at the University of Wisconsin, I had never really considered going abroad, let alone to somewhere in Africa. I had taken Spanish in middle and high school, and for two years even tried my hand at Chinese (and a year of German), so I was definitely interested in learning about languages and cultures different from my own.

Fast forward a few years, and already knowing I would begin the elementary education program in the spring, and having thought and inquired about potential opportunities abroad, I knew I had to do take advantage. In early August 2009, I found myself flying out of Chicago, and-after a stop in London- arriving in Legon, Ghana, late the next day.

It’s still impossible for me to sum up my study abroad experience, and it’s difficult to believe that it’s been 8 years. Not only did I meet new people, try new food, learn (bits and pieces of) a new language, and travel to places I never imagined, but I developed a new identity. It was both the unique and the everyday experiences that shaped who I am today, currently the principal of a small, rural school in southwestern Wisconsin. Without taking the risks I did, or learning new things I never thought possible, I often wonder where I would be and all that would be different at this very moment.

Share with us a favorite memory from your study abroad days.
I have many memories from my semester in Ghana, but there are a few that stand out:

We were traveling back to Legon from northern Ghana one weekend, and our bus broke down with a few hours to go. With no solution (or mechanic) in sight, a good friend and I were able to make the trek back home on another bus that stopped by. The only difference was this one was full of chickens and goats, which certainly made for an interesting trip home.

Knowing I was going to start the elementary education program when I returned, I held an internship at a local school. On my very first day, I was handed a science book, and told I could "begin teaching." As if this wasn’t frightening enough, there were no other materials besides the chalkboard and some chalk, and perhaps even more surprising to me, students aged in range from 6 to 15. I learned a lot as time went on, and we had fun throughout the semester, but I still vividly recall that first day.

During the semester, I had the chance to feed a banana to a monkey (she or he peeled it as I held it in my hand), and to take a picture with a living, breathing crocodile (while holding the tail!). Certainly would not have predicted that.

Finally, the everyday experiences are what I come to find missing the most. From eating jollof rice and fried plantains, to hanging out with our Nigerian roommates, to riding a tro-tro into Accra, to spending most weekday afternoons at a local orphanage… I can’t quite pick out a favorite. Everything I did shaped my entire experience- even the not-so-good or the uncomfortable times- and I don’t think I’d change any of it.

What advice do you have for students returning from abroad?
Use what you've learned and experienced to inspire others. Too often we get stuck in only what we know and experience, and forget about empathy and a true understanding of how things can be different, and what that "different" may be. By sharing with and inspiring others, little by little, we’ll be able to create a more globally aware community, finding ways to connect with each other and improve lives everywhere. Don’t take anyone’s lack of curiosity as a sign that your experience didn’t matter. Sometimes you have to go out of your way to teach people about things they didn’t even know they wanted to learn!



Interview conducted via email August 2017.
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