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SCSU visits Spain, France and Guatemala over the summer

09/08/2010
By:

Pat Longobardi

Special to the Southern News

During the summer of 2010, students from Southern Connecticut State University took trips to study abroad to further help their traveling skills and foreign language abilities.

Spain, Iceland, France, and Guatemala were the four countries the groups traveled to. The period of time the trips lasted varied depending on which country students visited.

Directors and staff from Southern were still raving about their respective trips as the fall semester began.

The trip gives students the chance to meet new people and in the process, they can earn up to six credits toward graduation and their foreign language requirement.

Camille Serchuk, director of the Southern trip to France, along with university professor Thuan Vu, said going to France helps a student see exactly where different pieces of French history are located.

“They can visit places like Paris and Versailles, where much history was made, and seeing these sites firsthand makes history a little more real, a little less remote,” said Serchuk.

Serchuk said the main attractions of the trip included visiting the Louvre and the Mona Lisa, and eating
French food.

“The French,” said Serchuk, “care about food more than we do here, and their food supply is more localized and less industrialized. Everything has so much more flavor and complexity than food here.”

Director of the Southern trip to Spain and a 20-year staff member of the program, Carlos Arboleda, said studying abroad is very important and helpful to students.

“Despite the current economic recession, I hope that the state of Connecticut, the leaders in Connecticut, help keep supporting this program,” he said.

The trip took place in the medieval city of Salamanca, known for its literary past. Students studied the Spanish language, literature, and civilization.

“Since its foundation in 1218, Salamanca is very well recognized as a university city,” said Arboleda. Two of the reasons why Salamanca is popular are because it is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, and the
purest “Castellano” (Spanish) is spoken there, according to Arboleda.

“That is one of the reasons why thousands of national and international students travel there to improve their Spanish languages skills, and/or to finish their careers in different academic fields,” said Arboleda .

In Guatemala, students focused on public health and how something such as health care is needed in developing and poverty-stricken nations. Guatemala is mainly a Mayan community, according to director of
the Southern trip to Guatemala, William Faraclas.

“About 75 percent of the country lives in poverty,” said Faraclas. “Among that, half of the population, which are the Mayans, are probably about 85 to 90 percent of most of the people in poverty.”

In Guatemala, everything from traditions to everyday life is different compared to living in the United States, according to Faraclas, the Chair of the Department of Public Health at Southern.

“Their diets are different, their perspective on the community is different, their perspective on health is different, they eat different foods, they hang around rich communities,” said Faraclas. “They make you wonder why people in traditions of poverty have a sense of who they are and a sense of themselves, and have a part of happiness within their community.”

Study abroad happens each semester at Southern. For more information, contact Dr. Linda Olson, Dr. Erin Heidkamp or Dr. Sobeira LaTorre in Engleman B129.

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