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FALL 1999

Beyond The College's Gates
Beyond The College's Gates

Letter From Sarajevo
Letter From Sarajevo

Poetry In Motion
Poetry In Motion

Getting Bogged Down
Getting Bogged Down

A Cappellooza
A Cappellooza

Spreading Mount Holyoke's Word
Spreading Mount Holyoke's Word

Mount Holyoke News
Murtis, The Environment, and Other News

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Mount Holyoke College

Foreign Shores
Mount Holyoke students can study virtually anywhere in the world. The College has run its own program in Dakar, Senegal, since 1992, and this year inaugurated a second program abroad, in Montpellier, France. Mount Holyoke also cosponsors the Associated Kyoto Program, under which students can study at Doshisha University in Kyoto. In addition, through the Office of International Affairs, students can apply to a vast array of study-abroad programs. The College also has many of its own exchanges with universities around the world.

Erica Swenson '00 spent a semester in the Senegal program, and says that it is truly a world apart. "It was the opposite of Mount Holyoke in every way. The culture, religion, housing, the way people relate to each other--you name it." A history major with a minor in French, Swenson says life in Senegal was an education in itself. "I was interested in how this would test my French, but a lot of people only spoke Wolof--and my Wolof wasn't great." Classwork was sometimes tricky with the language barrier, but she managed: "Everyone was so helpful. People are very open there." At the University of Paris, where she studied for a semester, Lidet Haile '00 (at right above)also warmed to her fellow students, whom she describes as "totally approachable."

Special Rewards
Mount Holyoke students have an excellent record of winning study-abroad fellowships and awards--from Fulbrights to Rotary scholarships. Women's studies major Mary Hidajat '00 (at right)spent two months in Indonesia on a Weed Ford Mellon fellowship, researching policies and attitudes there toward reproductive rights. Her stay came on the heels of riots that toppled former President Suharto. "Talk about education," she says. "You take politics for granted here. There, it really counted." Hidajat had one particularly meaningful educational experience. She assisted at a birth, proving so helpful to
the mother that she became the infant's godmother. "It's the most amazing thing I've ever seen," she says. "It lent perspective. I was focusing my research on birth-control methods, but it's crucial to remember that there are new lives in this issue too."

Branching Out Closer to Home
Of course, not all off-campus programs require students to go abroad to get a taste of something new and different. Mount Holyoke's affiliation with the Five College Consortium affords access to neighboring Smith, Hampshire, and Amherst College, and to the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Participation in the Twelve-College Exchange enables Mount Holyoke students to study for a semester or a year at such schools as Wellesley, Dartmouth, and Vassar Colleges.

In Another Sphere
To much of the world, Biosphere 2 is still remembered as an unsuccessful attempt to simulate a full earth environment in an underground, sealed, live-in setting. But Biosphere 2, as it's known (Biosphere 1 being earth), gained new life after Columbia University took over the Arizona installation in 1995 and transformed it into an educational lab for science
students. Becky Smith '00 and Li Dorothy Wong '00 (at right)were among a select group of seventy-two students who spent a semester at the Biosphere last spring, working respectively on geology and environmental studies.

Smith says that the academic environment was far different that what she was accustomed to at Mount Holyoke: "It was a different mind-frame. There were four professors, but they all worked together so closely that it had more of the feel of a seminar." Wong says she enjoyed working with Frank von Hippel, a conservation biologist whom Wong rates as one of the best teachers she has ever had.

Working one-on-one with a faculty member off campus is among the most beneficial experiences a Mount Holyoke student can have. Ali Feinberg '00 (at left) joined geology professor Al Werner and graduate students Yarrow Axford '97 and Laura Levy '98 for four weeks of research this summer in the Alaska wilderness. During their expedition, the team collected samples from glacial lakes, and the professors and students are now studying the sediment as an indicator of climate change in the region. Feinberg, a self-designed environmental geology major, valued her work as Werner's "junior colleague" of sorts. "Actually 'doing' geology gave me a new appreciation for the classroom activities we have done," she says. Feinberg will do her honors thesis this year on cores retrieved from one of the glacial lakes.

It's not just the student who gets something back from working one-on-one. "It's always rewarding to have students in the field. It's not just classroom concepts for them anymore; they're actually seeing things and trying to interpret them," says Werner. The blurring of defined roles is also beneficial for everyone, according to Werner. "Out in the field, there's not so much of a student/teacher hierarchy. It's more fluid. The students become more like research associates; we work side-by-side, we kick around ideas and we make decisions as a group."

When They Come Home
Students who pursue studies beyond the College's gates return to Mount Holyoke with an increased sense of confidence. "I feel now that if I want to do something, like graduate school, I can. I just need to take the steps to do that," says Gail Ballantyne '00, who spent 2 months touring European cities last summer as a recipient of the College's Karen Snyder Sullivan Memorial Travel Award. Most students also mention the cultural impact of their experiences. "It used to be that everythingfor me was about independent thinking. In Senegal, that's never the case! Everything is about community," Erica Swenson says.

Students who leave the College for a spell come back with a worldview that is wider than the one they had when they left. And that's what it's all about.

An alumna's travels lead her to a peacemaking effort


Copyright © 1999 Mount Holyoke College. This page created and maintained by Don St. John. Last modified on December 23, 1999.