Nov. 19, 2013
By Allyson Karnowski
Andersen Library is regularly home to those who have their noses buried in a mountain of books, but some Wednesdays, a handful of students gather to hear fellow UW-Whitewater students encourage them to study beyond UW-W, and even beyond the U.S.
Co-Sponsored by the Center for Global Education and the International Student Association, the Global Café Series is designed for students to hear directly from those who have participated in Travel Study and Study Abroad programs and international students. Speakers encourage and introduce students to various study abroad opportunities, while also educating students on different cultures around the world. The first event of the series was held Oct. 2 at 5:30 p.m. These informal meetings will be held throughout the semester on the main floor of Andersen Library.
For the first Global Café of the semester, attendance was more than expected with 20 students. Mitch Rankin, a UW-Whitewater alumnus, came back to campus and shared a PowerPoint presentation about his experience studying abroad last spring at Murdoch University in Perth, Australia. Rankin said he wants every student to know they can study abroad.
While Rankin delivered a speech that included his 20-plus-hour flights, excursions to Indonesia and several islands on weekends and other international students who soon became his friends, Rankin’s goal was for others to experience this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
Rankin said he used to think studying abroad would only be a dream for him due to insufficient funds.
“I didn’t think it was possible, but with UW-Whitewater’s help and the Benjamin Gilman’s Scholarship, I could [study abroad],” Rankin said.
Rankin, a spring 2013 graduate, got financial help from a $3,000 Pell Grant and the competitive Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, an award that offers grants to students specifically studying abroad in regions such as Australia and New Zealand. The scholarship also promotes studying abroad to students with disabilities, those from diverse ethnic backgrounds and those who have great financial need. Rankin was able to explain the process he followed before being selected as a scholarship winner.
Junior Maija Whitegon attended Global Café for the first time this semester. She has considered studying abroad in the past, but said she was unsure whether she would be able to fit it into her schedule and cover the large program fees. Currently, Whitegon is looking into spending a semester in Finland this coming spring.
“[The Global Café] inspired me to continue pursuing my dream of studying abroad,” Whitegon said.
It seemed Whitegon was not the only one with these feelings, as several students had questions regarding Rankin’s different scholarships and grants he received. Many of the students were interested in receiving financial help to consider studying abroad an option. Other questions asked were in regards to Rankin’s program at Murdoch University and the kangaroo population in Australia.
Aly Rudy, Center for Global Education outreach coordinator, was able to answer students’ financial and other questions. Rudy said answering these questions is part of the reason the Global Café Series is available.
“The main goal of the Global Café is to share different cultural experiences with one another,” Rudy said. “It is a wonderful way to encourage others to be open-minded. Another goal is to encourage students to go abroad.”
The Center for Global Education also offers Global Pathways Advising Sessions throughout October and November. These are 45-minute informational sessions held in Hyland Hall 1227 for students interested in an experience abroad. The sessions give basic information such as program costs, deadlines, country opportunities and more. Unlike Global Café, the Advising Sessions do not have student presentations, but are held directly with Mikaela Auerbach, the Global Experiences coordinator.
In the future, the Global Café Series will have presentations from more study abroad, travel study and international students, sharing their experiences in another country and informing students who are interested in studying abroad of their options. Students are encouraged to attend all of the sessions, as each one is different from the others. The next Global Café session is at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 4 on the main floor of Andersen Library.