University of Nebraska grant gives students more opportunities to study abroad

UNL student Izzie Neubauer made a lot of friends while studying abroad in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
Photos provided by Izzie Neubauer

Story by Jessica Sorensen

In August 2011, the University of Nebraska Foundation’s awarded more than $1.1 million to go towards study abroad programs.

The grants will fund curriculum development, faculty travel stipends and help to expand international partnerships. The money will also provide more student travel scholarships.

Heidi Fatemi, a UNL senior majoring in secondary education, wants to study abroad but can’t because it is too expensive.

“If I couldn’t get a scholarship to help with the price then I would be less interested in studying abroad,” Fatemi said. “It would be a great opportunity but it’s also expensive and something I wouldn’t jump right into because of how must it can cost.”

The student travel scholarships could give her, and other students, the opportunity to experience traveling abroad.

Fatemi would like to study abroad in Tehran, Iran, where her father, Morteza Fatemi was born. At the age of 18 he relocated to Baton Rouge, La., in December 1976 for a better education.

“I think culture is really important and it is good to know where you came from so I want to visit there to better understand the history of my family,” Heidi Fatemi said.

Fatemi knows the study abroad experience could give her intangible benefits. It would allow her to be exposed for the first time to different cultures and people.

This year the University of Nebraska Foundation board directors and University of Nebraska President James B. Milliken decided to emphasize the money to study abroad programs.

Clarence Castner, the University of Nebraska Foundation President, said it was Milliken who thought global engagement would be an appropriate area to focus on this year.

“Ultimately we would like to achieve a more global university for students and faculty,” Castner said. “We view this as seed money to change the culture.”

Izzie Neubauer in Santiago, Dominican Republic.

Money distribution:

  • $300,000 to University of Nebraska-Lincoln to support the Global Gateway Program and scholarships.
  • $293,500 to University of Nebraska at Omaha to expand international partnerships in India, China, Germany and Norway, as well as faculty stipends for two-week research visits.
  • $166,000 to University of Nebraska at Kearney to support the student study abroad program and faculty travel stipends.
  • $250,000 to University of Nebraska Medical Center to support research on the health of mothers and infants in India. The money will also support a collaborative research program between UNMC and the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
  • $100,000 to University of Nebraska Central Administration to support a university-wide study abroad program that gives students the opportunity to apply for a two-week study on agriculture, water for food and early childhood education in India and Brazil.

Dave Wilson, UNL’s associate Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs says the grant will enable more opportunities for students to engage in the world.

“It helps faculty to rethink their course, including significant international content and create new study abroad opportunities for students,” Wilson said. “I think study abroad can change us personally and professionally. It can open the world to us, and us to the world, and in the lives of our students that’s going to be increasingly important.”

Izzie Neubauer, a senior Latin American major, studied in Santiago, Dominican Republic in Spring 2011. After her program ended she stayed a week to work at an orphanage and taught English for students in elementary school.

Neubauer plays with an elementary student in the Dominican Republic.

Neubauer didn’t study abroad before this year because she was hesitant and didn’t have the finances.

“Anyone with an opportunity to study abroad should take it. It improved my Spanish speaking skills, accent, knowledge and allowed me to get an outside perspective of U.S. culture,” Neubauer said. “You’ll meet a diverse group of people and likely make lifelong friends.”

Neubauer received help with the cost of studying abroad from two scholarships, one of those being from the modern languages at UNL for $500.

The experience for Neubauer was one that she will never forget.

“They seem to proselytize passionately about how much it changed their life and how much it changed their education,” Castner said. “They will talk about how every topic, every class, takes on perhaps a little bit of a different meaning because of it.”

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