Students to spend Winter Break steeped in South American

culture off the tourist track

Two days after Christmas, 16 UNT Emerald Eagle Scholars will fly from DFW International Airport to South America where they will spend the remainder of their Winter Break – including several days in the world’s southernmost city, Ushuaia, Argentina. For many members of the group, this is their first trip beyond the borders of Texas.

The students are participating in the third Emerald Eagle Study Abroad Program – a cooperative effort between the Emerald Eagle Scholars, UNT International and the Center for Global Learning and Experience – which covers the full cost of the trip and provides students with 3 hours of course credit.

Immersion in South American life

The interdisciplinary course, led by Melinda Levin, associate professor and chair of the department of Radio, Television and Film, will immerse students in the culture, arts, history, environment and ecology of Chile and Argentina, including Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego.

The cultural immersion trip includes visits to:

While abroad, students will learn about:

Preparing global citizens

"The over-arching goal for these Emerald Eagle study abroad programs is to make the students better global citizens, to help them become leaders in global citizenship and to become global citizenship ambassadors," Levin says. "I think there is a clear theme in these annual classes that we are going to places that are dealing with real environmental sustainability issues," Levin says. "The courses are designed to get them thinking about sustainability issues in a very deep way."

Additionally, while traveling students will learn important lessons about leadership and leadership qualities with the help of Bonita Jacobs, vice president for student development, who is also traveling with the group.

"Students will be tasked with certain leadership questions that will be part of their grade," Levin says.

Students are also required to bring digital cameras to document their experiences and to learn about ethical cultural storytelling and archiving. Masters filmmaking student Scott Thurman is accompanying the students help them with their media projects. Watch their story unfold via photos, video and Twitter >>

Getting their hands dirty

"They are getting a big taste of all kinds of issues in South America," says Levin, who is making sure students get lots of hands-on experience on the trip. While touring the Beagle Channel in Argentina, the group will visit a cattle ranch that is more than 350 years old.

"The ranch is on the Beagle Channel, so whales and penguins frequently beach there and die," Levin says. "The ranch owner has offered to let the students help her clean whale bones which are then examined by scientists at museums and research institutes worldwide."

Prior to the trip, students are conducting required reading about the locations they will visit. Based on what they learn about the locations, they will choose which lectures and sites they will write about for their academic response papers.  Upon returning home Jan. 14, 2010, the students will delve into deeper research about their choices and prepare papers that will count toward their course grade.

Emerald Eagle program

Emerald Eagle Scholars commit to maintain a 2.5 grade point average, complete 30 semester credit hours each year and engage in university life by working on campus and participating in mentoring and other programs to ensure student success. The program is open to talented Texas students with adjusted household incomes of less than $40,000 and is funded by donations and federal, state and institutional funds. The program provides selected students with free tuition and fees for four years.

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