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W'International students to choose among eight locations

by Luanne Williams

Study-abroad is accessible with Wingate's low-cost program tailored for juniors. W'International attracts a crowd. In fact, 87 percent of eligible juniors take part, with excitement building in the spring semester as destinations for the following academic year are announced. 

Wingate University students will be studying in Italy, Peru, Costa Rica and the United Kingdom later this year, and next spring, groups will head back to the UK, to Argentina, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Hong Kong -- all part of W’International, the University’s signature study-abroad program.

The travel destinations were announced last week at a reveal party during which students sampled international desserts and music, gathered passport information and listened to faculty members pitch their seminars before deciding on their top three choices. Registration for W’International is open to full-time students who have at least 57 credit hours (junior classification), a GPA of 2.3 or higher and who are in good financial standing with the University.

Before taking the 10-day journey, they must make a passing grade in the related class, a weekly seminar designed to help them tackle a particular topic when they reach their destination. The subjects are as wide-ranging as the locations. Cost for the travel program ranges from $500 to $1,500.

Before flying to Italy for lessons in Pizza and Pisa, math professor Kaitlyn Perry will take her students on a journey through math history. “When thinking about famous mathematicians, Italian mathematicians are usually among the first people we think of — Galileo, Fibonacci, da Vinci,” says Perry. She’ll help students “learn all about their lives and their incredible mathematical discoveries” as they prepare to analyze the angle of the lean in the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the geometry in the Pantheon, the linear perspective of the Duomo and more.

English professor Brooke Mitchell’s group will explore the holidays in the United Kingdom. “Ever wonder why we send Christmas cards, have big family dinners and decorate Christmas trees?” Mitchell asks. “Ever wonder why A Christmas Carol has had such lasting strength? Or why we sing ‘Auld Lang Syne’ on New Year’s Eve (or what that even means)?” Her seminar will examine the roots of holiday traditions through visits to London and Edinburgh. Students will compare the works of Charles Dickens, Robert Burns and others against the backdrop of the Victorian period to better understand the origins of familiar traditions.


“More than Macchu Picchu: Exploring Peruvian Customs, Cultures, & Communities” is the name of Melanie Keel’s W’International course. Although students will visit Peru’s most iconic attraction, they will also tour many other historic sites and will explore architecture and the impact that the country’s past has on its present. Family structure and community engagement will also be topics for study in Keel’s class, as she gives students the big picture in Peru. Keel is an education professor.

Meanwhile, some 1,400 miles north, Melissa Fox, a biology professor, will introduce her students to “Costa Rica: The Crossroads of Ecotourism, Conservation and Culture.” They will study Costa Rica’s rich biodiversity and evaluate how ecotourism poses benefits and risks to efforts to conserve rainforests and other natural environments. Students will hike through rainforest reserves to collect climate-change data, explore volcanic mountain ranges that provide renewable energy, encounter exotic plants and animals and tour coffee plantations that support the Costa Rican economy.

Fall W’International travel actually takes place after the end of the semester, with students often ringing in the New Year abroad.

Spring W’International travel typically comes on the heels of Commencement in mid-May.

That’s when Tracy Davis, biology professor, will take her students “Tangoing with Free Healthcare in Argentina.” She expects them to learn “how the economy, political situations, education of the people, and geography of the country can all influence or hinder the ability to provide even basic healthcare to those in need.” To compare and contrast Argentina's health care system with that of the United States, the group will visit public and private hospitals, talk with doctors and nurses and interact with students at the National University of Cordoba. They will also experience a huge outdoor arts market, tango dance lessons, and day trips in the mountains.

Davis’ colleague in the biology department, Erika Niland will lead a study called “Agriturismo, the Marriage of Tourism, Cuisine and Agriculture.” “This W’international program will focus on Italian cuisine and how tourism has impacted the economic development of family farms and sustainable agriculture in Italy,” Niland says. “Come to Italy to study Agriturismo and discuss varying topics such as farm sustainability, carbon footprints, the ‘Greenhouse Movement.’ pesticide laws and more.”

Patrick Young’s group will take on psychology in Germany through a course call “Persuaded to Persecute.” Students will perform a social psychological examination of the persecution in Nazi Germany and learn how Adolf Hitler and the entire Nazi regime used psychology to spread terror, hate and destruction. “We’ll explore various historical sites which display the negative impact of these concepts and experience historical World War II sites and memorials, as well as the Berlin wall and other Cold War sites,” says Young, a psychology professor.

Students looking for a lighter approach to politics will want to pursue professor Jacob Wobig’s course, “The Politics of Harry Potter.” He will study the question of political identity using the Potter series, in the UK, where the novels are set. “Questions of political identity are questions of social status, legal status and belonging,” says Wobig. Students will explore relations between wizards and Muggles, the treatment of house elves, and the exercise of power by the Ministry of Magic while they relate those themes to real world questions about status and national identity through visits to London and Edinburgh.

Hong Kong skyline

Across the globe, French professor Marc Yang will have his students exploring “One Country, Two Systems: China’s Big Experiment.” “Hong Kong and Macau are former British and Portuguese independent city-states handed back to China in 1999,” Yang explains. “How do they operate now within mainland China’s history, culture, and politics? His course will give students a better understanding of the contribution that these unique areas make to China and its increasing importance on the international stage. In addition to Hong Kong and Macau, the class will visit Shenzhen and Zhuhai.

Finally, Alison Brown and her students will learn “Lessons of Health from ‘the happiest people on earth’” in Denmark. “This W’International program will take you through a study of Danish culture, lifestyle and attitude, emphasizing aspects of healthy living,” says Brown, who teaches biology. “Compare and contrast the various rewards and challenges of the Danish culture to the culture of the United States by focusing on the various aspects of healthy and ‘hygge’ (cozy) living.” Topics will also include the history of modern Denmark, the Scandinavian healthcare system and welfare state.

W’International is one of several study-abroad programs offered at Wingate. To learn more, visit the Office of International Programs.

March 12, 2019