Campus Life  

UBC students live history in Eastern Europe

Locations around Romania and Bulgaria are the setting for the Eastern Europe field school program next summer, led by professors from UBC's Okanagan campus.

Locations around Romania and Bulgaria are the setting for the Eastern Europe field school program next summer, led by professors from UBC's Okanagan campus.

Next summer, UBC students will stand in the middle of a Saxon German fortress church in Transylvania. They will root through the archives of the communist secret police in Bucharest. They will dip their toes in the Black Sea, and visit the birthplace of Constantin Brâncusi, an internationally renowned Romanian sculptor.

These are just some of the real-life learning opportunities that are part of a new summer group study program at UBC's Okanagan campus. Eastern Europe at a Crossroads: Romania and Bulgaria offers students the opportunity to take UBC classes while traveling and volunteering through Eastern Europe.

"I believe very strongly that today's students need international experience and exposure to numerous cultures," says History Professor Maury Williams, who will be teaching one of three classes in Eastern Europe. "And I mean culture in the sense of history, geography, art and economy. I mean it in the sense of the way communities live, change and construct new institutions."

Service and community learning is a large component of the summer group study program. Students will build houses as volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, and will design costumes under the guidance of their Romanian fine arts colleagues.

The nine-credit program is available to all UBC students with at least second-year standing. The $4,950 program fee includes bus and guide for all transfers and tours, accommodation, breakfasts and some dinners, sightseeing, and side trips. The fee will be reduced by $1,000 for UBC students qualifying for the Go Global award (students with a 70 per cent average over 24 credits during the 2010-2011 academic year).

"If you love to travel, this is a fairly stress-free way to explore a country with friends -- it's beauty, art, history and culture -- while earning university credits," adds Williams.

The idea for the Eastern European summer group study program began with UBC Philosophy Professor Manuela Ungureanu, who grew up in Romania and who has a degree from the University of Bucharest.

"By learning, understanding and reflecting on the history of Romania and its transformation from a country under a repressive communist regime to one of the newest members of the European Union, I hope students will gain a new understanding and appreciation for their freedoms and rights and be able to bring their insights into context within their own professions, vocations, and lives," says Ungureanu.

"The experience of learning while immersed in another culture is life-changing," she says. "What our students study in the morning they will experience in the afternoon, and by the time they return home they will have acquired a deeper sense of their own educational opportunities."

A Go Global public information session will be held next Wednesday, Dec. 8, from 1 to 2 p.m. in Art 206, in the Arts building on UBC's Okanagan campus. This session will outline the Group Study Programs available with an emphasis on the Eastern Europe at a Crossroads: Romania and Bulgaria program. Students and their parents are welcome to attend.

Ungureanu and Williams add they welcome members of the public, who can find out more information on how to join them in Europe under UBC's special student initiative, and take the program either for credit or as audit students.

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