The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



Kellogg to host abroad open house

Nicole Toczauer | Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Students who are interested in service or research abroad but are overwhelmed by the application process can get a head start at Wednesday’s International Open House, where representatives from more than 20 University offices involved with study, service and research abroad will showcase a variety of available programs.

Holly Rivers, director of the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, said the 450 students registered for the event will receive information on opportunities available in Africa, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.

“There are many, many international opportunities offered to students,” Rivers said. “This is the one night in the year where they all come together.”

Lance Askildson, assistant provost for internationalization, will kick off the evening with opening remarks. Two seniors will then share experiences from their time abroad and discuss their impact on a Notre Dame education.

“One of the things we want to convey is that you’re not just a passive participant in your education,” Rivers said. “It’s easy to be overwhelmed, but I think students should take the opportunity to build their own program.”

Rivers said students still considering different programs should talk to other students about their experiences before narrowing their options.

“The best advice, the hardest to follow, is [to] talk to others,” she said. “Then you can compare goals for your education, find how to reach them and pursue what makes the most sense.”

Students should research opportunities during freshman and sophomore year to find a niche for themselves, she said.

“You can’t write one application and expect that to get you into any program,” Rivers said. “You need to talk to each program, find out their missions and work with that.”

Students who participated in the programs gain confidence and a sense of independence, Rivers said. Managing education, research and work in a different culture helps students to grow as individuals and to gain a better understanding of the place of the United States on the global stage, she said.

Senior Lily Hough taught English in Manta off the coast of Ecuador the summer after her sophomore year. Hough traveled through an internship with the Kellogg Institute and was connected with a teaching program called WorldTeach.

“I had never taught before, so WorldTeach provided me teacher training for two weeks in the capital, Quito, before sending me out into the field,” she said. “I had to create my own curriculum for the summer and design all of my own lesson plans.”

Hough’s work in the classroom was extremely challenging, and she said being so far from home took a toll. Still, Hough does not regret her experience abroad.

“The language barrier was really tough, and without my family and friends, it was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but it was the best too,” Hough said. “I had to get really creative to get the students to break out of their shells and start participating.”

The International Open House originally began as a re-entry point for students returning from study abroad like Hough, Rivers said. The first few workshops focused on returning students’ plans to continue work in the countries they visited.

Since then, the Open House has grown into a showcase of international study programs available to students still considering their options.

“Students can do almost anything they want to do,” Rivers said. “That wasn’t the case when I began nine years ago.”

Hough said her experience abroad, even with its challenges, had a positive impact on her.

“Especially when you’re engaged in work directed at someone else’s benefit, you learn a great lesson in service,” she said. “It’s about how working and engaging with that community changes something in you that makes you a better human being.”

The International Open House will take place in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies Wednesday from 4 to 7 p.m.