Study abroad in Russia, China, Brazil, Ireland

Ready to shake that dust off your feet and see the world?

Join the many Saint Martin's students who are broadening their academic careers with travel and study overseas. Find out what exciting trips are in store on our study abroad website.

inWords Archive

Alumni

From theory to practice. Alexander, Olga and Alex Anderson '14 apply their engineering studies to the real world by bringing clean water to Papua New Guinea.

Twins Kathleen and Jacqueline Byron ’92, engineer great lives…together.

For Tanzania's Doctor Sister Redemista Ngonyani, O.S.B. '04 education is key to being the change she wants to see in the world.

Christine Schaller '93, aiming high because of Saint Martin’s University.

Rae Simpson BSN '95, MSN '98, using her Saint Martin's education to see the bigger picture.

Joe Skillman '13, masters the art of balancing family, school, work and faith.

Looking for the perfect Christmas tree? Ask Jonathan Sprouffske '04 and his family who keep the holiday tradition alive and well.

Current students

Washington Association for Marriage and Family Therapy honors MAC candidate Liz Robinson '15 with $500 scholarship.

Presenting in paradise! For psychology major Timothy Templin, Honolulu made the presentation process a calmer experience.

Faculty

Jeff Birkenstein, being influenced by Russian writers in Petrozavodsk.

Julia Chavez, helping students see themselves through the universal elements of Homer's The Iliad.

Mary Jo Hartman, broadening SMU's biology horizons through "Sound Learning Communities."

Louise Kaplan inspires the next generation of nursing professionals.

Why present your scholarly work? Jeremy Newton offers insight into presentation benefits.

New York City. Summer 2014. Healing and social justice through improvisation. A Playback Theatre workshop with Leticia Nieto.

Institution

What do you get when you cross a pig naming contest with a pig hunt? Why student philanthropy, of course!

Pack your bags! It's time to head north, south, east or west with Saint Martin's study abroad programs.

Two transfer students representing the Benedictine values and the Saint Martin's spirit are awarded $26,000 each.

Want to become a better teacher? Try traveling to Inner Mongolia.

Like what? Post where? Retweet who? The Saint Martin's Social Squad social(media)-izes SMU!

#SaintsAlive! Let's get sustainable! Going to Bellingham and going green.

How do you make the seemingly unfloatable float? Why build a concrete canoe of course!

Transformation is the name of the game for the 2013 women's fastpitch softball team.

Celebrity chef Michael Symon helps SMU raise $960,000 for student scholarships.

Team Anderson: Olga, Alex and Alexander engineer for the future.

SMU 'takes the LEED' with the highest certification in the Western Hemisphere.

2013 fall convocation Taking the road less traveled.


A broadening perspective

by Jeff Suwak

Fredrick Schouviller stood at the window of his tenth-floor apartment in Buenos Aires, and watched the heat lightning arc across the summer sky. As the lightning illuminated the crowded Argentine cityscape, he reflected on how his studies had brought him more than 6,000 miles from his Saint Martin’s home.

For Schouviller and an increasing number of Saint Martin’s students, the road to a college diploma has led far beyond their wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. While Old Main and Harned Hall remain the heart of Benedictine learning on campus, the confines of those classroom walls are being stretched in the effort to prepare students for a successful career — and more importantly, a meaningful life — in the global community. From South America to Russia and many points in between, Saints have been traveling around the world to broaden the scope of their Saint Martin’s education.

“Study abroad experiences incorporate all our core themes of faith, reason, service and community. It helps build community, both internally, within the Saint Martin’s campus community, and externally, in the wider global community.”

Brenda Burns, International Activities and Study Abroad Coordinator

In early 2012, Schouviller received the prestigious Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, awarded to 1,000 outstanding American undergraduate students from more than 380 colleges and universities across the U.S. With the help of the Gilman Scholarship, the criminal justice major was able to spend a summer studying at the Universidad del Salvador.

His studies included courses in Spanish language, sociology and Argentine history. But perhaps the most powerful lessons of Schouviller’s education came not from the classrooms of the Jesuit university, but from his experiences in the impoverished rural countryside, where he helped build houses for families in need with the nonprofit organization Un Techo para mi Pais, which translates as “Roof for My Country.”

Schouviller’s volunteer work had him traveling over miles of roads so badly rutted by wear and weather that the children living in the area often could not get to and from school. In these isolated areas, people were living without electricity or running water, in levels of poverty that he had never witnessed in the United States.

“The houses were very modest by American standards — some would probably call them shacks — but the Argentinians were very grateful,” Schouviller explains. “They saw them as a sign from God that improvement was on its way.”

The impulse to study abroad as a college student certainly is not a new phenomenon. These days, aside from the desire to see new things and explore different cultures, students are motivated by the edge that a study abroad experience can offer once they hit the job market. In a world that is, in the words of Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Thomas Friedman, increasing “flat,” nearly every profession requires, or at least values, a keen global perspective.

On a résumé, international study or work experience can be the difference between “applicant” and “finalist.”

But it’s more than just pragmatism that makes a study abroad opportunity important at Saint Martin’s. In fact, international education is so significant to the Saint Martin’s experience that it is highlighted in the University’s strategic plan. Under the fourth imperative, “Evolve the Definition of University,” you’ll find Objective 4.2: Promote the University as a regional locus of global and international academic activity .

How does “international academic activity” relate to a Saint Martin’s education?

Just ask International Activities and Study Abroad Coordinator Brenda Burns, who says the opportunity to expand one’s horizons internationally supports the very identity of Saint Martin’s.

“Study abroad experiences incorporate all our core themes of faith, reason, service and community,” Burns explains. “It helps build community, both internally, within the Saint Martin’s campus community, and externally, in the wider global community.”

The rewards of studying abroad, says Burns, are almost too many to mention. “In addition to learning about themselves, students learn about the world, how they fit into that world, and what it means to be a socially responsible American.”

For many students, the experience is pivotal to their future, prompting them to alter personal or professional plans when they return to campus. Take Schouviller. The experience left such a deep impression that he is considering studying immigration law after he completes his undergraduate education, with the goal of helping immigrant families maneuver through the difficult legal challenges they face when trying to move to the United States.

Jamie Olson, Ph.D., assistant professor of English, believes that all study abroad students can benefit from a community service experience similar to Schouviller’s. To that end, Olson incorporates a service-learning component into the five- week group study trip that he leads to northwestern Russia every other summer. A few days out of the trip are spent in Moscow and Saint Petersburg in standard “touristy” conditions, but the majority of the trip is spent in modest dormitory housing in the smaller city of Petrozavodsk, capital city of the Republic of Karelia.

This past summer, Olson and his students visited a school for disabled children as part of their study abroad experience, providing landscaping for the school grounds. Over the course of the coming year, Olson hopes to work with some American businesses so that he and his next group of study abroad students can build a playground for the school in 2014.

Olson believes that one of the great rewards that students gain from studying abroad and seeing some of the difficult conditions experienced in other nations is humility. “Humility,” he smiles, “is something we can all use a little more of.”

Another benefit, says Olson, is the development of students’ critical, analytical thinking skills. “It gets them out of their own skins, out of their own environment — and that in itself has value,” he explains. “A person gets to see that we do things one way, but in Russia they do things another way, and maybe one is not better than the other. Maybe they are just two equally valid ways of doing things.”

Biology major Brittany Pegues agrees with Olson’s assessment. She feels that her biggest takeaway from the semester she spent studying in Seoul, South Korea, was the understanding that the American way of doing things is not necessarily superior to that of other countries, only different.

Pegues feels that any student, and any person for that matter, can gain a lot by seeing firsthand that “not everyone thinks about things the way we think about things, and not everyone lives the way that we live.” Pegues was impressed by the work ethic and devotion to academics she saw in South Korea, but the lesson that she took most to heart from her host culture was that, no matter how busy a person becomes, she must find time for friends and family.

“Even though the South Koreans I met studied and worked so much, they still went out all the time,” Pegues says. “They go to parties, they go out to dinner, they get together to exercise. There were times that I saw people exercising at the park at eleven o’clock at night.”

One evening, Pegues recalls, she was heading home from a club at two o’clock in the morning when she saw two elderly South Korean women walking a track.

“Who says there’s not enough time in a day?” Pegues laughs. “Apparently, there is.”

After she completes her undergraduate studies, Pegues is considering traveling back to South Korea to teach English for a summer before she begins medical school.

Saint Martin’s University is working to make the kinds of study abroad trips experienced by Pegues, Schouviller and Olson’s students available to as many Saints as possible. The Office of International Programs and Development staff assists students in finding scholarships and grants to help finance their studies abroad. Additionally, the University recently introduced its International Experience Scholarship, which awards funding for items ranging from visas to airfare to living expenses.

Opportunities for Saints are growing by the year. Business majors now have the option of joining the “International Business Track,” which will allow them to spend one semester in South Korea and one summer in Germany.

Not every major, however, fits seamlessly into the study abroad experience. Zella Kahn-Jetter, Ph.D., P.E., dean of Saint Martin’s Hal and Inge Marcus School of Engineering, recognized the value of the experience but also realized that engineering majors traditionally have had a difficult time studying abroad because of the highly specified course planning required to graduate in a four- or five- year timeframe. In order to make studying abroad more feasible for engineering majors, Kahn-Jetter began scouting Australia for universities that engineering majors might be able to attend without disrupting their progress toward their degrees. Her search was a success, resulting in a partnership with the University of Technology, Sydney. Starting in the 2013-14 academic year, sophomore engineering students can spend a semester at UTS and stay on their degree track. The courses have been vetted and the tuition is comparable to that of Saint Martin’s, meaning that both civil and mechanical engineering students can study abroad without falling behind in their schedule.

As the world continues to “shrink,” Saint Martin’s University continues to innovate to ensure that its students have access to the kind of international learning experience needed for success. In doing so, students push the boundaries of the Saint Martin’s classroom, taking their education — and their values — into communities around the globe.