This week is International Education Week. Gannon University is participating by holding events like speed dating, stories about culture shock and closing with a global dance party this Friday.
IEW started back in 2000 and is celebrated in more than 100 countries today. Colleges and many different types of businesses are asked to be involved in this week by participating and holding events.
Meagan McHugh, associate director of learning abroad, explained why Gannon has brought IEW to campus.
“It really is an excellent opportunity for universities and schools at all levels to celebrate and encourage understanding, education and leadership with a global perspective,” McHugh said. “Gannon is blessed to have a strong base of international students studying here on our campus and sharing in our community, as well as offering many programs for students to get out and explore the world and learn about cultures other than our own.”
There are many different opportunities to travel abroad from the T.R.A.V.E.L. program, faculty led trips, alternative break trips and summer or semester exchanges. Many students try to take advantage of study abroad programs during the summer. These give students the opportunity to test their language skills, see the world and even receive credit for their time abroad.
Kaitlyn Pittileri, a fifth- year Spanish major with a business option, went to Chile for 10 weeks during the summer to take 12 credits at a university. She took this opportunity because of the partnership Gannon has and she also could work on her Spanish skills in a real situation.
“I decided to study in Chile because Gannon has a relationship with one of the universities in Chile,” Pittileri said. “I also wanted to become fluent in Spanish and learn Spanish in Latin America opposed to Spain because there is more of an influence in the U.S. from Latin America.”
There are only a few scholarships offered to students who study abroad during the summer. Primarily scholarship money is devoted to the fall and spring semester exchange programs.
“It was cheaper to study abroad in the summer than it would have been to stay another semester at Gannon,”
All students were offered a $500 scholarship to write a daily blog on their experiences for last summer’s exchange programs. However, this was the only type of compensation Bridget Hovendon received. She didn’t get any substantial scholarship money from Gannon for her experience in Spain last summer.
“Many of my peers in the internship were Ivy league students who received support from their respective universities,” Hovendon said. “My experiences make me a strong proponent of Gannon’s global initiative, but I have received no financial support.”
Both of these students enjoyed their time abroad and it brought new meaning to International Education Week to them.
“My personal experience with international education was the education I received abroad — classes, the internship, visiting new places, making friends around the world and exploring the places I was living,” Hovendon said.
“While abroad, I tried to live by Mark Twain’s philosophy of not letting school get in the way of your education, since there were so many great educational experiences waiting outside of the walls of a classroom.”
Pilliteri had similar thoughts on the week.
“International education means providing knowledge of another culture, language and history you may not have learned about otherwise,” Pilliteri said.
“Learning in an environment that you are not accustomed to holds a much stronger impact on your social, personal and professional life. International education means endless opportunities.”
This is why Gannon promotes International Education Week. There are events happening all week for students to participate in. McHugh said it is a great opportunity to have an international experience right here in Erie.
“We encourage our students, faculty and staff to go out and explore the world, but also hope to enrich the greater Gannon and Erie communities by welcoming international students, visiting professors and visiting scholars to campus to share their insights and experiences with us,” McHugh said.