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By Eric Weld   Date: 11/3/10 Bookmark and Share

A World of Learning Outside the Classroom

Margaret Metzler ’11 shoots pictures from atop Germany's Alps.

Hanna Meghji ’11 gives an assist in Tanzania.

Liz Cook ’11 surveys the ranch on horseback in Colorado.

While studying abroad last year in Germany, Margaret Metzler ’11 embarked on a four-week trip, funded with a Blumberg Traveling Fellowship, to capture in pictures depictions of the country’s history and culture. She covered a large swath of the country, visiting 23 cities, riding for more than 50 hours on trains, and snapping more than 10,000 photos. “I have learned more about German culture and history than I ever could have from the outside [of the country],” says Metzler.

Hanna Meghji ’11 spent six weeks in Tanzania last summer on a Praxis internship teaching English, biology and math and leading other educational activities at the Wali Ul Asr Education Center in Kibaha. “This experience changed me in ways that I cannot entirely capture,” she says. “It has completely redefined who I am and my list of goals, and it has affected my lifestyle and how I think about race relations, sustainability and foreign aid.”

Metzler and Meghji will be among 30 students who will describe and discuss their ventures off-campus, through internships, study-abroad programs and community service projects, during the fifth annual Smith Elects the World Conference. The event will take place on Monday, Nov. 8, during two sessions—4:30 to 5:10 p.m. and 5:20 to 6 p.m.—in various Campus Center rooms (view a pdf schedule). A pre-conference reception will be held at 4 p.m. in the Wilson Atrium.

The conference was established to explore the relationship between formal classroom education and learning that takes place in off-campus programs.

Others will talk about their experiences in Argentina, the United Arab Emirates, China, France, Italy, Uruguay, Jordan, Switzerland and other countries.

Of course, traveling outside the United States is not necessary to gain invaluable experience with different cultures and skills.

Elizabeth Cook ’11 took up residence at the Buffalo Woman Ranch in southwestern Colorado last summer via a Praxis internship, where she learned about ranching and holistic therapy through interaction and work with horses. In addition to the daily tasks of ranch maintenance and animal care, Cook helped facilitate live-in training programs and worked with Navajo at-risk youth who visited the ranch. “I had an excellent and incredibly informative experience at the ranch,” she says.

The conference will also include presentations on Praxis internships at SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective in Atlanta, Ga., the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, and several in Washington, D.C.; as well as community service with Safe Passage in Amherst, the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, Smith’s Project Coach, and others.

The sessions will be moderated by Smith faculty members. Smith Elects the World is sponsored by the Office of the Dean of the College, the Career Development Office and the Committee on Academic Priorities.

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