Although teaching classes such as French language and literature in the south of France during a Hanover winter can spark envy, leading Off-Campus Programs is very demanding. But faculty and staff embrace the challenges willingly because they see firsthand the benefits students derive from their experiences.
More than 125 Dartmouth faculty are involved in Off-Campus Programs. Here, three describe what they value most:
Associate Professor of Asian and Middle Eastern Languages
Programs: Seven in Tokyo, Japan, from 1998 to 2008
"I feel the value of the program when I see a student interacting with his or her Japanese host family in ways that suggest a genuine relationship has formed.
"For example, I once heard a student call his host mother and ask whether the grandmother likes chestnuts. Returning from a trip with this sort of souvenir-usually a local delicacy-is exactly what Japanese folks do. And when I see a Dartmouth student doing it, I know that this student is developing a previously unexplored dimension of his or her humanity. In my mind, it's what learning to be multicultural is all about."
Associate Professor of Spanish and Portuguese
Programs: 15 in Barcelona, Granada, Madrid, Morelia, and Salamanca, Spain (including the fall 2008 LSA to Barcelona in the photo above); and San Luis Potosi, Mexico, from 1978 to 2008
"I still look back fondly on my first program in San Luis Potosi, Mexico. I had 20 men and four women so there was an interesting gender dynamic. For many students, it was an experience of tremendous cultural shock and enlightenment. They came to Mexico and discovered a country that is demographically very rich, with warm and welcoming families. The program in San Luis made me feel as though I could not only handle it, but that it's a significant part of Dartmouth's curriculum.
"I enjoy the satisfaction students feel as they see themselves achieve exponential gains in another language along with a growing understanding of another society. But my favorite moments are when a student suddenly understands that the program is as much about self-discovery as it is about learning about another culture."
Professor of Anthropology
Programs: Three in Auckland, New Zealand, from 2003 to 2007
"The Maori, the indigenous people of New Zealand, were colonized by British settlers, but they have managed to exert considerable influence on New Zealand culture as a whole. This is one of the few 'success' stories in relations between indigenous peoples and their colonizers.
"It is a total learning experience, not just classroom learning. I always feel proud of my students when we visit Maori communities, and they demonstrate their knowledge of the Maori language, songs, and dances (kappa haka). It shows how much our students come to respect the Maori by studying with them at the University of Auckland."
By STEVEN J.SMITH
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Last Updated: 11/26/08