Students learn outside, beyond classroom

October 31, 2007

by Mary Nash

Study Italian art history staring at Michelangelo’s David. Practice the Spanish language in a bustling Costa Rican city. Get into the minds of British authors and playwrights while sitting in the same room where they penned their greatest epics.
Students can experience a world beyond their textbooks with several Study Abroad programs offered through Tech.

Jace Stuckey, director of the Florence Study Abroad and an assistant professor of history, said there are a number of things to be gained from studying abroad.

“Students are able to gain a greater insight into the history and culture of a curriculum they are studying,” Stuckey said.

For students undergoing the expedition to Florence, Stuckey said there are number of benefits to studying within the Italian society.

“There is no better place to study the Italian past than in the cities and towns such as Florence that still reflect that rich history,” Stuckey said. “Hopefully, there will be an increased appreciation for different cultures around the world.”

Anne Reynolds-Case, Costa Rica Study Abroad director and Spanish instructor, said she is excited for the opportunity students have to learn in a culture native to what they are studying.

“With the Costa Rica program, students are learning not only in the classroom with native speaker but they are also living with Costa Rican residents and applying the language to real world experiences,” Reynolds-Case said.

She said students spend a great deal of time outside the classroom on various excursions in order to truly embrace the Costa Rican culture.

“Three times a week we take different trips, all within driving distance, to different Costa Rican landmark such as volcanoes, churches and even the rainforest,” Reynolds-Case said. “It is really important that students gain a cultural awareness in order for them to really be motivated to embrace the Spanish language.”

Stuckey said Florence Study Abroad students will also be able to do a variety of activities outside the classroom.

“Student will have the opportunity to hike to Fiesole Hills, just outside of Florence, or go out for a night at the opera or even take a boat trip down the Arno River,” Stuckey said.

Cherrie Sciro, Tech London director and associate professor of theater, said the London trip is truly something to behold.

“Within a period of three weeks students are thrust into the world of Shakespeare and Chaucer,” Sciro said. “Students see the plays, meet cast members, tour amazing areas of British culture and study literature in the place where it was written.”

Sciro said she had a vision of what she wanted students to get from the experience.

“I feel students learn best in an informal environment where they can speak their minds and have free discussion,” Sciro said. “London allowed us the opportunity to do that because we could go into these different areas then meet for discussions and elaborate on the things we experienced.”

Sciro also said this trip is one of the most fulfilling experiences of her career.

“I had not planned to see the light bulb go off with students the way that it has. It is truly mesmerizing to see students have this life-changing view of another culture.”