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W&M study abroad: Transformative summer semester


For many William & Mary students, the most intense semester of the year is summer. They are studying abroad--struggling with languages, with nuances of cultures and, perhaps, with what it means to be a person of privilege in this world. This year, 300 of them will be studying in 32 locations across six continents. None of them will return the same.

Recently, two returned study-abroad participants spoke about their efforts to videotape the experience last year. Ashby Gaines '12 and Hannah McCarthy '12, who traveled to St. Andrews and St. Petersburg, respectively, were participants in the Global Symphony project, an interdisciplinary effort to capture the experiences of W&M students in locations around the world. During a video-taped interview, they addressed the challenges of capturing the beauty of a city while also enjoying their short time there, as well as the possibilities for portraying the necessity for students to engage with the world and the affect studying abroad has on a student's understanding of his or her own country.

According to Stephen Hanson, vice provost for international affairs and director of the Reves Center for International Studies, "For many William & Mary students, summer study abroad can be a transformative experience.  Seeing what the world looks like from diverse global perspectives forces them to reconsider basic assumptions about society.  The knowledge they gain about humanity's interconnectedness constitutes crucial preparation for life in the twenty-first century."