Friday, April 27, 2012

GW Students Participate in Global Exchange with the National University of Singapore

Below is a story from GW's Geography Department's Newsletter, which highlights six GW students' exchange program in Singapore over the Spring 2011 semester. Please see the link below for this post's original source.

Six George Washington University (GW) undergraduate students engaged in a semester-long global exchange with their peers from the National University of Singapore (NUS). The six GW students “went global” by enrolling in Professor Joe Dymond’s Geography 3198: Singapore: National Image and Identity for the spring 2011 semester.

The Singapore-focused Geography course was part of the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Scholars in Globalization program. The program encourages GW students to work together with a peer group from the University Scholars Program at NUS to further their understanding of the connections and relations between the United States and Singapore AND to understand and compare the global influence and global roles played by each country. Professor Lo Mun Hou of the NUS - University Scholars Program - led the Singaporean cohort which also consisted of 6 undergraduate students.

The two student groups were quickly “linked” through video conferencing and blogging. The NUS students and Professor Lo visited GWU in February of 2011. Events during their visit included guided and interpreted tours of the National Mall, Anacostia, U-Street corridor, a meeting with the Executive Director of Cultural Tourism D.C., and a special surprise “behind the scenes” video and talk at renowned D.C. eatery - Ben’s Chili Bowl.

The GW student’s semester of reading and discussing dozens of peer-reviewed journal articles and establishing the framework for individual Singapore-based field research projects culminated in a two week trip to Singapore! Professor Lo and his undergraduate student team planned and hosted an amazing cultural and global experience for their GW guests. Numerous talks from NUS scholars, award-winning documentary film directors, and Singaporean government officials enabled the GW students to garner both an academic and pragmatic appreciation of life in Singapore, and the role Singapore plays in a globally-connected world, in ways unattainable through normalized international travel.

Professor Dymond, and GW’s Geography Department Chair, Professor Elizabeth Chacko, led additional excursions for the GW students to neighboring Indonesia and Malaysia.

GW sophomore and Geography major, Susie Charlop, said of the journey “Singapore was one of the most important experiences of my life. Not only did it take me across the world to see a place and culture fundamentally different from the U.S., it gave me the opportunity to learn and explore with Singaporean students and professors. Engaging in academic dialogue, but also discussing issues relevant to our daily lives was one of the best parts of the experience. Additionally, the places we had the opportunity to see were incredible. One of my favorite places was Pulau Ubin, a tiny fishing island just off the coast of Singapore, where we rented bikes and explored the island's nature. Additionally, I loved going to Indonesia and Malaysia. Even though both were only weekend trips, it was an incredible experience to move outside of Singapore and develop a better understanding of its regional context.”

Anita Davidson, GW junior and Geography major contributed “I truly enjoyed my experience in the global scholars program. Beyond the obvious benefits of making lifelong friends from the other side of the world, conducting my own research in the actual location I was studying, talking to the experts who wrote the articles and papers that I used for my paper, and getting to experience a new and rich culture, I also had the opportunity to learn more about my city. While organizing events for the Singaporean students' visit to DC I had the unique chance to get to explore and learn about Washington D.C. on a much more intimate basis. Another added advantage to this course is that, being a geography major, I was able to form relationships with many of my professors that go beyond the classroom. I now have a dream to create an authentic and relatively representative Singaporean restaurant in partnership with one of the students from the exchange. Who knows if it will happen, but the fact that this program gave me the chance to look beyond the semester's grades is rather remarkable.”

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