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Posted by Paula Paine on February 14, 2011 in "School of Education", "study abroad", "The College"

Study Abroad Opportunities Matter

Jake McMillian

College-wide e-mails changed the lives of three current OU™ students in 2009. Messages many people drop right into their recycling bins allowed these three to experience life as they never had before. Jake McMillian was chosen as one of only 10 students in the entire country to participate in the Summer 2010 Freeman Indonesia Nonprofit Internship Program sponsored by the Freeman Foundation and the Institute of International Education. Lindsey Lightner jumped at the chance to follow in her grandmother’s footsteps by visiting and studying in New Zealand. Lee Nave had never left the country but celebrated his birthday in Tokyo.

McMillian deleted his e-mail but opened it again thirty minutes later when he couldn’t stop thinking about the possibilities of going to Indonesia. A junior business administration and English major, he spent two months in Jakarta, Indonesia, working for the NGO, Yayasan Usaha Mulia, which means “foundation for noble work.” He studied language in the mornings and spent the rest of his day evaluating children for scholarship opportunities and reporting back to donors about potential recipients. “I never would have done this without Dr. [Murle] Mordy,” says McMillian. “I was fully content going back to work at Target this summer. Saying that I’m eternally grateful is an understatement.”

Lindsey Lightner

Lightner, senior elementary education major, studied in Dunedin, New Zealand, for a semester at the University of Otago. After receiving her e-mail of opportunity, Lightner pursued studying abroad despite the fact that she would go alone to a school the size of KU in a far-off country. She was one of 3,000 study abroad students. She lived off-campus and took courses ranging from biology to history to sociology. “This experience prepared me to teach as nothing else has,” says Lightner. “I can now adapt to different classrooms. It helped me get over my shyness, and maybe most important of all, it helped me find empowerment as a woman.”

Lee Nave

Nave, junior history and speech communication major, traveled to Tokyo to live with the Fujiwaras for two weeks last summer after receiving an e-mail about the opportunity from Dr. Mordy. The Fujiwara Scholarship is a lasting OU legacy and Nave joins a long line of fortunate students who have been hosted by the Fujiwaras in their home. He tutored English students at a small education center as well as read children’s stories (and sang a few songs) for an education DVD. Nave also squeezed in sightseeing trips and enjoyed tasting a variety of new foods. “This experience allowed me to put down my books and experience the world instead of only reading about it,” says Nave.

Dr. Mordy offers this advice to current and future students: “Consider study or travel abroad because of the way it can broaden your outlook on life. So many people who apply for jobs today have a college education. If a student has studied or traveled abroad, it gives them a potential edge in capturing a job.” It’s also an enlightening, inspirational way to grow as a person. Just ask these students who responded to their inbox.