May Term offers 12 classes to four continents in 2009

by Peter KaspariStaff Writer

Simpson College is offering 12 different study abroad programs for May Term 2009.

The courses, which give students the option of traveling to four different continents, are the result of several months of work by Simpson’s faculty and staff.

“In January, faculty that are interested in leading an international travel course are asked to put together a travel course proposal,” International Education Coordinator Jay Wilkinson said.

According to Wilkinson, the study abroad committee reviews the proposals and may ask for additional information. If approved, the plans then go to the Educational Policy and Curriculum Committee. If the EPCC approves the proposals, the full faculty then votes in April to pass a course.

By the end of the spring semester, all the May Term courses for the following year are known and information is sent to students.

Students interested in studying abroad for May Term had their first opportunity to learn more about them at the Study Abroad Fair on Sept. 16.

“It was the opportunity for students to obtain information about all of the international travel courses which are being offered during May Term 2009,” Wilkinson said.

Junior Meghan Berryman was interested in the courses going to Ireland.

“The landscape and city look beautiful,” Berryman said.

Junior Chelsea Bruening expressed interested in the course heading to the Galápagos Islands.

“I think the scenery is amazing, and you get to scuba dive,” Bruening said.

After the study abroad fair students to submitted applications to the Office of International Education. Although the application deadline had passed, Wilkinson said that students who missed the deadline are not necessarily out of luck.

“It doesn’t mean students can’t submit application materials beyond that point, but it’s possible that certain courses will be filled,” Wilkinson said. “On Sept. 30, the study abroad Web site will be updated with the list of all classes which still have space available.”

The following week, the faculty sponsors of each course will review their applications.

“On the 29th, they will let me know of the students who they feel can be accepted into the travel course,” Wilkinson said. “I then take all that information and send an email to the students on Sept. 30 notifying them of their status in the course to which they’ve applied.”

Jeff Parmelee, associate professor of biology, is one of two faculty members leading the course to Ecuador and the Galápagos Islands. It is the second time he is teaching this course.

“We’re spending half the time in the rainforest and half the time on the island,” Parmelee said. “The whole time we’re going to be studying the natural world.”

Parmelee said that biology will be only one part of the experience for his students.

“Along with biology, they will take a lot from the culture,” Parmelee said. “We have a lot of Spanish majors, so they can practice the language.”

Due to the problems with the economy and student loans, there has been some concern as to whether students will be able to afford to study abroad. Wilkinson said there are options for those who are concerned.

“We are offering a refund of the $200 deposit for only two reasons,” Wilkinson said. “Once being if they don’t get accepted into the course. The second is if students work with the Office of Financial Assistance to apply for loans, and they learn, prior to Oct. 20, that their loan financing is not approved.”

Wilkinson suggested students remain up-to-date by checking out the study abroad Web page.

“It has lots of information as well as the application form on there,” Wilkinson said. “And we will continue to update the courses that still have availability.”