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Women of the World: Educating Students for Global Citizenship
--A Q&A with Latvia's Irina Liberman '06

In and Out of Africa

On a Global Mission:
Kavita Ramdas '85 Helps Girls and Women Build New Lives by Investing in Their Dreams

Strokes of Genius:
Top Women Golfers to Compete at Mount Holyoke

--Audry Longo '05 Tees Up

News

Mount Holyoke College News and Events College Street Journal Vista

SPRING 2004 VOLUME 9, NUMBER 1

Educating Students for Global Citizenship

Mount Holyoke's dual aim to educate the world's women and educate women about the world is evident everywhere you turn on campus. Step into a classroom and listen to American and international students discussing Western perceptions of Arab and Islamic culture in a course titled East Meets West, From Dante to Disney. Visit the kosher/halal dining hall and share a meal with students from all over the world. Stroll through the newly renovated Blanchard Campus Center and hear a group of students talking about the College's Model UN conference. Global culture is woven deeply into the Mount Holyoke community. "Roommates and neighbors bond no matter where they're from," Gabby Templet '04 said. "Chances are great that you will interact with a different culture while doing laundry, partying down the hall, or waiting in line for dinner."

The international connections forged daily across the Mount Holyoke campus reflect the College's overarching commitment to embracing the world. The Global Studies Initiative, directed by economics professor Eva Paus, was established last fall to strengthen and solidify MHC's goal of preparing students for meaningful engagement with the world. "We must enhance students' understanding of the global challenges we face, deepen their appreciation and understanding of the cultural diversity of the world, explore the connections between the global, the regional, and the local, and embrace the value of reexamining one's beliefs through the eyes of the other," Paus said. She plans to bring the College community together to discuss critical international issues through conferences and lectures, to expand student and faculty exchanges with educational institutions in other countries, and to further develop the College's international alumnae network so that Mount Holyoke students--past and present--can easily establish mutually beneficial relations across national boundaries.

Cross-cultural study at Mount Holyoke starts with its geographically limitless curriculum. Choitsho Eudel Dorji '05, from Bhutan, described her academic pursuits at the College: "I came to Mount Holyoke certain that I wanted to major in psychology, and now, after a few classes in economics and French African literature, I am a double major in French and economics. I have also been able to do a summer research project on Buddhist religious art and to go to Senegal to meet with my favorite author in an independent study class over January Term. This is what is fantastic about Mount Holyoke and a liberal arts education: there is so much to learn and there are no limits."

The College is immeasurably enriched by its vibrant and diverse population of international students. "I feel I am part of a worldwide community here," politics major Emily Anter '04 said. "Comments and questions from international students have provided insights and other points of view." Mount Holyoke's tradition of educating international women goes back more than 150 years, and today it's stronger than ever. The College ranks first among national liberal arts colleges in international enrollment. MHC currently has 375 international students--16 percent of the student body--from six continents and 77 countries, including France, Pakistan, Bulgaria, Japan, Kenya, Sri Lanka, and the United Kingdom.

Global learning at Mount Holyoke does not end at the classroom door. A host of cocurricular programs, discussion groups, and outings provide students many avenues for exploring diverse cultures. Students wishing to hone their foreign-language skills gather for weekly dinners in residence halls hosted by the College's foreign fellows, graduate students who spend a year on campus teaching language and sharing their cultural perspectives. The College regularly features international speakers and artists. Last fall, for example, visiting theatre arts professor Holger Teschke, a playwright and critic who was chief dramaturg at the Berliner Ensemble in Berlin from 1991 to 1999, produced Brecht's Conversations in Exileas part of the College's celebration of the Pontigny symposia of the 1940s, when world-renowned intellectuals and artists who had fled Hitler's Europe gathered at Mount Holyoke.

Voices across campus resonate with cross-cultural harmonies. At Eliot House, the College's center for religious life, students from a wide array of religious backgrounds come together to share and explore one another's spiritual traditions. "Eliot House both reflects and promotes the College's commitment to creating a global village," Andrea Ayvazian, dean of religious life and Protestant chaplain, said. "We thrive on cross-faith dialogue and interfaith worship, we are guided by the leadership of a multifaith council, we enjoy multiethnic cooking, we honor each other's holy days, and we share each other's feasts and fasts."

International study programs all over the world offer Mount Holyoke students opportunities to explore their role as global citizens. This year, more than 200 students are spending the year or a semester studying in many countries, including Australia, Brazil, China, Cuba, Ireland, Italy, and Russia. The Office of International Affairs helps students choose and apply for programs, prepares them to get the most out of their experiences, and smoothes their transition back to Mount Holyoke.

Bronwyn Llewellyn '04, a biology major, spent last spring at Kenya's School for Field Studies and came home feeling that she "had made a real difference for the communities and wildlife in Kenya." Although she admitted it took time to readjust to "classes that weren't interrupted by birds flying through the classroom or didn't take place from the back of a bunch of Land Cruisers," she said that "going abroad refreshed me, made me step back and examine my priorities, helped me realize what a good thing we have going for us here."

Returning from a year in the Dominican Republic, Spanish and Latin American studies major Julia Sorcinelli '04 appreciated more than ever the College's diverse student body. "I missed Dominican culture, food, and music, and my host families and friends. Luckily, MHC has a strong Hispanic population on campus. I was able to connect with several of these students and share my experiences with them."

For many, the College's global ties continue beyond graduation. The Career Development Center offers students abundant resources for finding work and graduate study opportunities abroad, including its twice-yearly "Going International" programs. Designed for students returning from junior year abroad and others interested in international work and study, the sessions help students clarify their goals and skills and provide them with resources and search strategies to achieve their ambitions. The CDC has forged contacts with numerous international employers, including Paris Newsweek and Deutsche Bank. "If they want it, they'll get there," said David Machowski, CDC's director of recruiting and employer relations.

In so many ways, MHC helps to promote educational opportunities for women all around the world. This summer, Mount Holyoke is cohosting with Smith College the first annual international women's college conference, Women's Education Worldwide 2004: The Unfinished Agenda, convening presidents and other leaders from women's colleges and universities worldwide to discuss the state of women's education and efforts to encourage women's participation in science and technology. Nobel Prize-winning economist Amartya Sen will give the keynote address.

"The achievement of peace and prosperity in the twenty-first century demands that we educate our students for global citizenship," Paus said. "To step onto Mount Holyoke's campus is to engage with the world."

A Q&A with Latvia's
Irina Liberman '06

Irina Liberman '06 grew up in Riga, Latvia. Because of the great experience she had as an AFS exchange student at Gloversville High School in upstate New York, Liberman dreamed of going to an American college or university. She returned to Riga to finish her senior year of high school and applied to Mount Holyoke. After being accepted as a spring entrant, she spent her fall semester working for the Russian Drama Theatre in Riga coordinating a coproduction with the Edinburgh Festival that was directed by Peter Stein. Vista caught up with Liberman to discuss her experience as an international student at MHC.

Q: What were your thoughts as you were leaving Riga to study at MHC?
A: I was excited and slightly anxious. I was about to leave my country to spend four years at Mount Holyoke. I had questions about so many things: Am I going to fit in? What will life be like at a small women's college? Is it going to be hard to pick a major? Meet new people? Am I going to be able to call this new place my home?

Q: Have you found answers?
A: Not easily at first! And some aren't final yet--I'm still working on an independent major in sociology and communications. I'm still meeting new people from both Mount Holyoke and the other Five Colleges. And, I'm still planning my study abroad in Australia and trying to find the best internship opportunities.

Q: What do you like best about Mount Holyoke?
A: I love Mount Holyoke's small classes because it's easier to discuss issues with professors and students. I enjoy the all-women environment because I've met the most amazing people here. I never thought I could be friends with so many different people from all over the world. My roommate is Turkish--sometimes I think I know more about Turkey than I ever wanted to!

Q: What do you find most challenging?
A: Mount Holyoke is so demanding academically. Professors expect so much that sometimes I'm not sure if I'm in grad school! Sometimes I get lonely and homesick, but anytime I'm down, I have friends around me who help me through tough times.

Q: What are you planning to do after you graduate?
A: I hope to go to graduate school in America to study marketing, public relations, and advertising. My first choice is Harvard. I'm also considering working for a New York City PR firm or advertising agency.

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