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Engaging in a Dialogue that Can Both Surprise and Inspire

Engaging in a Dialogue that Can Both Surprise and Inspire April 11, 2010

2010 Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study will be streamed live online

Conducting chemistry research on the high seas, interviewing Costa Rican farmers, writing about protests in Argentina, and starting up a business in Chicago are among the experiences that 33 students will share at the ACM Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study on April 16-17.

Annette Zak and host family membersKnox College student Annette Zak (center) with members of her host family in Argentina.

Each year, more than 3,500 students from the 14 ACM colleges take off to locations around the globe to tackle independent research projects, participate in internships, study languages and subjects across the curriculum, and immerse themselves in the daily life of other places and cultures.

The Symposium is an opportunity for some of those students to gather together and reflect on academic and personal aspects of their off-campus study and to explore questions raised by their travels and experiences.

All of the students’ presentations and panel discussions will be streamed live on the ACM website beginning at 1:30 p.m. (Central time) on Friday, April 16. See the Symposium webpage for the complete schedule.

For many of the Symposium participants, off-campus study was an opportunity to take on the challenges of engaging another culture.

Annette Zak, a creative writing and Spanish major from Knox College, looked forward to testing her journalistic abilities during a semester in Argentina. While she was there, Zak found adventure — hiking on glaciers, reporting on protests — and made close personal connections with “a host family that came to mean the world to me.”

She also encountered questions that were fundamental to her role as a communicator. At the Symposium, she will talk about some of those questions, and her responses to them, in her presentation on “The Journalist, Lost in Translation.”

Victoria HensonVictoria Henson

Living with a family was an important part of the off-campus study experience for Victoria Henson, as well. Over dinners with her Florentine host family, “I discovered that culture is a dialogue that can both surprise and inspire those who are willing to participate,” wrote Henson, a Lake Forest College senior. She will reflect on the personal growth she experienced on the ACM Florence Program during her Symposium presentation.

The ACM colleges nominated students for the Symposium, and the campus delegations also include faculty members and administrators.

Panel discussions featuring groups of students and moderated by faculty will focus on themes and questions raised in the individual presentations, and the audience will have opportunities to ask questions of the students. The Symposium will conclude with a panel discussion of faculty on the afternoon of Saturday, April 17.

Heather NennigHeather Nennig

Research projects — an important aspect of many off-campus programs — will also be highlighted in student presentations.

For example, one of the participants, Ripon College junior Heather Nennig, learned to navigate by the stars and chart a course across the ocean during her off-campus study, which included a six-week research cruise to islands in the Pacific Ocean. At the Symposium, she’ll talk about collecting and analyzing water, nutrient, and organismal samples for her scientific research.

For Colorado College junior Rakhi Voria, research was an integral part of a group project to create a start-up business in Chicago as part of ACM’s Business, Entrepreneurship, & Society program.

“Having an idea and plan wasn’t the hard part of the project,” said Voria. “The difficult part was testing our theories by surveying and speaking with outsiders regarding our concept. So many different facets of knowledge are required to create a business, including a business model, target market, and clear marketing plan.”

Rakhi VoriaRakhi Voria

The group’s business plan was put to the test when they “pitched” it to a panel of venture capitalists and investors. At the Symposium, Voria will discuss the discoveries she made during the course of the project.

The inaugural Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study was organized in 2009 to mark the 50th Anniversary of ACM’s founding, as well as the leading role that ACM colleges have played in off-campus study for college students.

The consortium launched its first off-campus progams – both domestic and international – in the early 1960s. One of those programs, still going strong almost five decades later, is in Costa Rica.

Pål RobsonPål Robson

Pål Robson, a double major in political science and anthropology at Macalester College, spent last spring on ACM’s Costa Rica  program, which offers opportunities for independent research in all academic areas.

For his project, Robson interviewed Costa Rican farmers to learn what they thought about economic and political changes taking place in the country, and the effects those changes had on the local community. At the Symposium, he will present his findings from the interviews and historical research he conducted.

The 2010 Student Symposium webpage has abstracts of all the students’ presentations, showing the wide range of experiences and topics the students will bring to the Symposium.

Presentations and panel discussions will be streamed live on the ACM website on the following schedule (all Central time).

2010 Student Symposium on Off-Campus Study

  • Friday, April 16 at 1:30 – 3:30 pm and 4:00 – 5:30 pm
  • Saturday, April 17 at 9:30 – 11:30 am and 12:30 – 2:00 pm
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