New study abroad program heading to Laos

Philip Zoppi – General Assignment Reporter

Southern’s Office of International Education is offering a new study abroad program that will be travelling to Laos this summer.

Brendan Walsh, Assistant Director and Fulbright Coordinator in the Office of International Education at Southern, will be in charge of this program.

Walsh is excited about showing students a place in the world that not a whole lot of people really know about.

“I lived in Laos and it’s my favorite country and place in the entire world,” said Walsh. “We don’t have enough students interested in going to Asia to understand what that continent is about and why it’s unique.”

No students have registered to go to Laos yet. The deadline to apply is March 2 and Walsh encourages students to do so. Sometimes spots available in certain study abroad programs can fill up at a fast rate so applying at a date well before the deadline is strongly advised.

For this particular trip, the Office of International Education is looking to take at least eight students on the trip. If the program doesn’t get eight students then the program will be called off.

While in Laos, Walsh will be teaching a creative writing course that deals with travel writing. This will include creating and updating a blog almost everyday about what you experienced during that day. The course will involve writing daily and hopefully teach students how to write about their travelling experiences.

Walsh thinks this experience in Laos will be something that students will never forget for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is the people you get to meet in Laos.

“The people are just so open and just so friendly and humble in a way that we don’t even understand,” said Walsh. “Living there just seemed like one of the most peaceful times of my life. I think it will be a profound experience for the students that come with me.”

A lot of this trip will be about visiting cultural sites and learning the history of Laos. Walsh said even though the language barrier can be tough to overcome, just through hand signals and actions you can tell what the Laos people are all about. Walsh has learned the language himself but has said it can be difficult for students to pick up on.

Other topics that will be discussed in this course are the government in Laos, the history between Laos and the United States, and exploring the country daily. Students will be travelling all over Asia to see different exhibits and people during the summer to understand these topics better.

Going to study abroad in Laos is not a typical destination that college students go to. Places like Ireland and Italy are places where students will usually want to go. Walsh thinks students should try going to Laos instead because it offers something unique.

“In Laos you can connect to people and a culture that students have probably never even considered before,” said Walsh. “Going to a place that you don’t even know where it is on a map and being moved by it, I think that’s what study abroad is all about.”

All information regarding studying abroad in Laos can be found in the Office of International Education at Southern.

Photo Credit: l@mie

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