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Reves Center helps build study-abroad programs

Guru Ghosh arrived at the College in 2000 to become director of global education at the Wendy and Emery Reves Center for International Studies.

Guru GhoshAt the time, William and Mary sponsored no study-abroad programs in Spain, yet most of the majors in the modern languages and literatures department were in Hispanic studies. Ghosh soon learned that significant numbers of William and Mary students were going to Spain through a program sponsored by the University of Virginia. Ghosh decided it was time to do something about the situation.

At about the same time, Francie Cate-Arries and Carla Buck, both professors of Hispanic studies, went to Ghosh about the possibility of putting together a study-abroad program in Spain, Cádiz in particular.

In early 2003 the Reves Center decided to support a program in Cádiz that fostered strong student/faculty research. “It was a roaring success,” says Ghosh. The first year the program drew a record number of students. Success of the Cádiz program was built in part on the brainchild of another Hispanic studies professor.

“The faculty-mentored research component of the Cádiz program was inspired by the William and Mary program in Morelia, Mexico,” Cate-Arries said. “My colleague Teresa Longo conceived of this research project model in 1999 and we eagerly followed her example with the Cádiz program.”

Other programs are now working toward adding a research component. Both the Russian and China programs are adding a one-hour prep course so their students are better prepared for the experience abroad.

“Cádiz is a great model because it builds on the core of what the William and Mary undergraduate experience is about and then transplants it abroad,” says Ghosh.

It takes 18 to 20 months to establish a study-abroad program, which usually grows out of collaboration between faculty and Reves staff. The Reves Center staff and the faculty member work together to create the budget and write a proposal presenting the idea to the Study Abroad Committee of the College. Once the program is approved, the reins are handed to the faculty member who controls the curricular and administrative structure of the program.

“Not every program has a similar mission. It’s up to the faculty member to determine what focus their particular program takes,” says Ghosh. “Much of what I do is help build the program.”

“I have always looked at William and Mary as a fertile cradle for bright minds and providing these bright minds a really powerful experience outside the boundaries of the campus of William and Mary is possible when you have exemplary programs like Cádiz where you can go and immerse yourself in language, culture and history of the people,” he says. “I have worked closely with William and Mary faculty who have a passion and commitment to undergraduate learning and research.”

At this writing, there are 14 faculty-led study-abroad summer programs, five William and Mary-sponsored semester/year-long programs and 14 exchange programs with six under development. To date, 100 William and Mary students have studied in Cádiz.