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The Value of Learning Off Campus

When Kelsey Winsor ’07J traveled to Ambergris Caye, Belize, last summer to teach local children about the habitat and biology of the coral reef there as part of the Coral Reef Ed-Ventures program, she gained insight about the region and about humans’ environmental impact that is hard to come by in the classroom.

After spending two summers as a volunteer teaching English to middle school students in Xiaoshicun, China, Rebecca Heeb ’07 was inspired to refocus her academic goals at Smith toward a career in international relations.

On Tuesday, Nov. 7 (Election Day), Winsor and Heeb will join 20 other Smith students in discussing their experiences learning beyond the classroom during the Smith Elects the World Conference in the Campus Center. The conference was established to explore the relationship between formal classroom education and learning that takes place in off-campus programs, such as Praxis internships, study abroad, and community service.

In five concurrent panels beginning at 4:10 p.m. in various Campus Center rooms, students will describe how their studies at Smith have shaped their off-campus endeavors and how those experiences have enriched their academic programs at Smith.

Emily Orzech ’07 will talk about her experience working with Tibetan Buddhists in China. Fadzai Chinyengetere ’07 will discuss her volunteer work at a hospital in Zimbabwe. Others have traveled to El Salvador, eastern Europe, Madagascar, as well as New Orleans and New York City in a range of programs and internships.

Just as important, many Smith students remain close to home, tutoring elementary students at the Gerena Community School in Springfield, for example, or assisting students in inner-city Holyoke.

These students’ stories underscore the significant contribution their off-campus learning experiences have on their liberal arts education.

The student panel will be followed by a faculty panel at 5:10 p.m. in the Campus Center Carroll Room, featuring Al Curran, professor of geology; Sam Intrator, associate professor of education and child study; Leslie King, associate professor of sociology; and moderated by Maureen Mahoney, Dean of the College.

A reception, open to all, will follow the panels at 6 p.m.

Smith Elects the World is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the College, the Office of the Provost and Dean of the Faculty, and the Career Development Office.

11/3/06   By Eric Sean Weld
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