The Extra Mile
How enrichment travel grants give students a chance to go further.
“I literally fed a panda from my own hand,” says Susana Alvarado ’20 describing an experience she had in Shanghai, China, during her fall 2019 study abroad. This experience would not have happened had it not been for a donor-supported travel enrichment grant.
Students can apply for between $550 and $2,000 in supplemental travel funds by designing their own individualized learning objectives that go above and beyond their off-campus programming. Along with a detailed proposal, evaluated and awarded by a review board of faculty members, the applicant must present lessons learned to a faculty committee upon returning to campus.
“All of these grants are enhancing an already powerful experience by developing and understanding international education,” say Marina Llorente, associate dean for international and intercultural studies. “The curriculum is driven by the faculty, the donors provide the students more opportunities, and the grants are driven by the students wishing to embark on a journey of their own.”
Alvarado has used her grant to compare three Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai, and Chengde.
“Through exploring these three cities, I was able to create a new understanding of Asia,” says Alvarado. “We Americans are so quick to categorize them into one identification, but through this project, I was able to see that China has a combination of metropolitan cities, as well as rural communities. Each city had its own personality.” Now back on campus, Alvarado is working to recruit more St. Lawrence students to study in China.
For Shelby Little ’20, travel enrichment meant something entirely different.
“I was immediately enthralled in the concept of death within cultures, and with the evolving times,” says Little, who, after taking Dealing with the Dead, an anthropology class at St. Lawrence, used her grant to explore museums, crypts, and cemeteries throughout the Czech Republic while participating in the St. Lawrence's Austria Program. Little was intrigued to step outside of the classroom and experience how neighboring countries in central Europe observed death.
“I was able to not only explore the wider knowledge of burial based on culture, religion, and politics,” she says, “but also explore my future career path, of bioarchaeology.”
Paul-Hudson Erwin ’21 finished his study-abroad experience in Bordeaux, France, with an enrichment grant to the Mediterranean island of Corsica.
“With my personal interest in photography and my major in global studies, I wanted to connect the two through exploring different perspectives and cultural identities all behind the lens of my camera.”
Erwin focused on exploring the separatist graffiti of the Corsica natives. “I was able to explore the graffiti that showed the plea of the locals for freedom from France. I would pick up on simple things like bullet holes in a stop sign, and I could feel the tension of the situation and see the evidence all over the island.”
Using the grant, Erwin was able to stay in Corsica for five days. “Being able to travel with financial security allows you to relax and truly become engulfed in the culture.”
“St. Lawrence’s main education goal is experiential learning,” says Llorente, “and the enrichment grant is the University at its best.
It allows them to go the extra mile, literally, to develop intellectually through an intercultural experience, while also challenging them to travel independently, all the while creating an appreciation for the donors and fostering a culture of next-generation giving at St. Lawrence.”