Study Abroad Programs Expands its Boundaries
Ascending from the last rung of an ancient ladder, with only the narrow beams from their helmets lighting their way through the darkness, the climbers found themselves gazing upon the preserved skeletons of "The Crystal Maiden" and the bodies of other sacrificial offerings concealed in the cave's chambers.
These were not professional archaeologists, nor were they adventurous tourists. These explorers were, in fact, students from Santa Monica College who traveled abroad for a summer in Latin America.
SMC continues its study abroad program this summer by giving students the opportunity to study anthropology and creative writing in Latin America, philosophy and English in Greece, or astronomy and Italian in Italy.
Professors act as guides, ensuring that students have anything but the typical tourist experience.
Traveling to Latin America with Professors Daniel Cano and Eric Minzenberg, students can expect to snorkel off the coast of Belize and tutor children from a small village.
"Students will be going to have a wonderful adventure at a place in the world that a lot of people don't get to," said Cano.
Students will see their fates align in the stars when spending a summer in Italy. During the 400th anniversary of Gallileo's discoveries, students can study astronomy and learn Italian while traveling to Naples, Pompeii, Vesuvius, Capri and Rome.
The trip to Greece reminds students that Greek influence goes beyond college toga parties.
SMC Professor Eleni Hioureas, a native of Greece, said, "What we're going to do is examine the philosophies of these philosophers, examine the philosophies of our Western civilization, and then we're going to examine our own lives."
Students attending the trip will explore Athens, visiting the stadium where the first Olympic games were held. They will spend a day venturing through towns that have modern and neo-classical architecture and Hioureas has even arranged for a close friend of hers to teach classic Greek dancing.
Over 700 interested students have contacted the study abroad department for more information on the Greece trip, but two obstacles stand in their way: the deposit deadline and the overall cost.
SMC Professor Jim Stramel, one of the teachers accompanying students to Greece, said that SMC had not done its best to advertise the trip. According to Stramel, SMC was to release the information before the spring session, but did not send out e-mails until Feb. 20.
"They sat on the information for a full three weeks and did nothing with it," said Stramel. "I had given up hope and I was depressed and angry because the college had not supported us adequately."
The original deadline for sign-ups was March 5 but the professors worked to push it to April 5, allowing more students to apply for scholarships. The Associated Students has allotted $75,000 in scholarships for those who qualify.
Students must demonstrate financial need, be a full-time student, an A.S.B. member and in good disciplinary standing. A minimum GPA of 2.5 is needed, in addition to a recommendation from an SMC faculty member. Students must complete a follow-up project.
"The experience is so much more valuable than the $5,000," said Hioureas. "You really see things in a way you never would have thought of before. I don't think that there's a reason for people to wait."
With a tone of encouragement for interested students Professor Cano said, "You aren't just sitting in class talking about the Tikal pyramids, you're sitting on them. You're not just sitting in class talking about Goya, you're standing in a museum in front of his paintings."
For more information on scholarships, contact the Associated Students. Visit www.smc.edu/studyabroad for the study abroad program's details and deadlines.