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Greece and Italy the latest stops as W’International turns 40

by Luanne Williams

Wingate students are set to continue a 40-year tradition by heading overseas during the winter break. The acclaimed W'International program makes Wingate one of the top universities in the nation for study abroad.

In a couple of weeks, 63 Wingate students, faculty members and other employees will become the latest Bulldogs to study abroad as part of the University’s W’International program, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year.

The groups, bound for Italy and Greece, continue a tradition that has made Wingate one of the top schools in the nation for study-abroad opportunities.

Wingate students studying abroad

The W’International experiences offer a combination of breadth and depth for students, many of whom have never traveled abroad before. In Greece, students will explore art and architecture by visiting Delphi, Corinth and the treasures of Athens, such as the Acropolis and the first Olympic stadium. After spending New Year’s Eve in Athens, art faculty member Marilyn Hartness and her group will have the opportunity to learn about quality olive oil production and try the famous Mediterranean diet. Throughout their journey, Hartness will point out the history and artistry in the fortresses, monasteries and ruins they encounter.

Meanwhile, religion professor Christy Cobb will guide students to examine the theme of Roman Christianity in Rome, of course, as well as in Florence, Naples, Siena, San Gimignano and Pompeii. Dr. Cobb’s group will celebrate New Year’s Eve in Rome and will have the rare chance to see the Pope for New Year’s mass at the Vatican. They will tour the Sistine Chapel, St. Peter’s Basilica and several other churches, cathedrals and catacombs throughout their visit. Other highlights will include the Epiphany parade in Florence and a stop at a working farm that produces saffron, pasta, meat and honey.

Each group of students has met weekly throughout the fall semester in seminars designed to create a context for their study abroad. The W’International experience – a two-hour-credit course followed by 10 days of travel – is offered to all juniors with a GPA of at least 2.3. Eighty-seven percent of eligible students take advantage of the low-cost program, which is the University’s largest study-abroad option. In the past five years alone, Wingate students have studied in 37 countries, according to Jennifer Armentrout, the University’s director of International Programs. Add in a variety of other study-abroad opportunities at other times throughout the year, and it’s no wonder Wingate’s international programs receive rave reviews.

Wingate students studying abroad

The Institute of International Education recently recognized Wingate as one of the top 25 master’s level institutions in the nation for study-abroad participation, based on 2016-2017 data. The Open Doors 2018 report, released by IIE and the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, ranked Wingate No. 22, up from No. 28 last year. The University is one of two North Carolina schools that made IIE’s top 25, with nearly 48 percent of Wingate undergraduates who earned degrees that year having studied outside the United States.

Armentrout says the entire campus understands the value of getting a global perspective firsthand. “I sometimes think of it like a triangle,” she says. “The work we do connects to the faculty and their expertise and efforts to offer academic experiences abroad, which is supported through critical resource allocations by the University administration. It is also part of the University mission to create global citizens, so each side of the triangle is essential for our programs to be successful.”

In addition to W’International, Wingate students can also take part in semester-abroad and summer study programs. Pharmacy clinical rotations are offered in Honduras, and Wingate has a Spanish Immersion program in Costa Rica.

“We are honored to be recognized for our collective efforts to offer global learning opportunities to Wingate students,” Armentrout said of the IIE ranking. “We look forward to our students’ adventures in Italy and Greece over this winter break, and to our many upcoming programs for the spring.

“We are grateful to everyone who has supported international programs and we continue to be committed to providing high-impact programs that our students remember for the rest of their lives.”

Dec. 13, 2018