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Study Abroad Project Competition Open

AUG. 29, 2008--The University of Wisconsin - River Falls has a new competition for study abroad awards, which is coupled with a variety of activities to encourage multicultural students to study abroad.        

The study abroad award competition, while open to all students, is geared towards multicultural, first-generation, low-income college students who wish to study in a less developed country in Africa, Asia or Latin America. The time period for using the awards for study abroad is January 2009 through January 2010.

The program is directed by Jackie Brux, professor of economics and director of the UWRF Association for International Development. Because some multicultural student groups have a low rate of participation in typical study abroad programs, constraints for these students tend to be more extensive than for majority students, and include issues of finances, family disapproval, and lack of encouragement and role models for their participation.

"If UWRF is to become more diverse, and acquire all of the benefits that accrue from diversity, then we have to reach out to these students and make sure that academic programs are as open to them as to the majority student population," said Brux.

The first deadline for the study abroad awards is Sept. 24 for study abroad programs taking place during J-term 2008-09, spring semester 2009, and spring break 2009. The second deadline is Feb. 23, 2009 for programs during summer 2009, fall semester 2009, and J-term 2009-10 .

There are several different aspects of the project, which is funded by a UWRF Race and Ethnicity Grant. These include:

•  The competition for study abroad awards, ranging from $500 to $1,000 per student. •  A set of posters distributed around campus. One poster has a photo of multicultural faculty and staff, and the other has a photo of multicultural students who have studied abroad. Both groups speak out in the poster, "Picture Yourself in Study Abroad."

•  A financial aid brochure that cites both local and national study abroad financial aid and scholarship sources. Many of these national scholarships have a preference for multicultural students.

•  A "Heritage" brochure, which describes UWRF Study Abroad programs that feature a heritage component. These programs have curricula that include learning about one's ancestry by going to a location with a population or memorabilia that are relevant to the student. For example, an African American student may be interested in learning more about his or her roots by examining vestiges of the slave trade while studying in Kenya.

•  A "Benefits" brochure, which points out the benefits of study abroad to all students, including multicultural ones, and addresses the constraints that are faced by multicultural students.

• Several books that have been purchased to create a "Study Abroad Library" for multicultural students. These books include Elaine Lee's (ed.) "Go Girl," Maya Angelou's "All God's Children Need Traveling Shoes," and Emily Verellen's "Lightbox."

Brux said she became interested in this project while conducting two research projects involving multicultural students and study abroad. She presented those research papers in Atlanta and Toronto. She also produced a paper, "Recommendations for Improving the Participation of UWRF Multicultural Students in Study Abroad," which is based on a broad literature of the subject, communication with colleagues at the conferences, and numerous interviews with UWRF faculty and staff involved with multicultural students, study abroad and financial aid. She said this recommendations document has been circulated to all administrators and relevant faculty, staff and committees on campus.

Brux said her initial interest in the project originated with her work with UWRF multicultural students and her professional work in less developed countries. "By sending multicultural students to Africa, Asia and Latin America, we not only provide academic, professional and personal benefits to these students, but we enhance mutual communication and cooperation between developing countries and the United States," Brux said. "We also make more U.S. citizens aware of problems and potential solutions in less developed countries."

For more information, contact Jackie Brux at 715-425-3335 or .


Last updated: Thursday, 22-Apr-2010 16:09:09 Central Daylight Time


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