July 24, 2000
Volume 52, No. 38
Travel grants offer wordly experience
By Eric Rangus
For many years, globetrotting for the University has been the exclusive realm of faculty and students. A new grant program has changed that.
Looking to give staff members a piece of the international experience, Emory College created the Dean's Staff Travel Award in 1999. With it, employees of the College can travel to countries where Emory has a study abroad presence and experience the excitement and education of visiting a foreign country. Not only does the award give staff members a tremendous personal experience, but in many cases it allows them to see study abroad programs first-hand.
"If the University is going to internationalize, it's important to think of the professional staff," said College Dean Steve Sand-erson, who created the program.
To receive an award, staff members must be nominated by their department chair or director. Then they must write an essay describing how they would use the grant. Those proposals are then passed to a committee of senior staff and previous award winners for selection.
"The winners have really put some great proposals together," Sanderson said.
Grant sizes vary and depend on several factors, such as destination and length of trip, and cover airfare and any other travel expenses including lodging, food and the occasional souvenir. So far, all award winners have traveled to Europe. Travel to Asia, Africa or Australia may require a larger grant, Sanderson said, since airfare to those continents is considerably higher.
Since being instituted two years ago, five Emory employees have received travel awards: Andrea de Man (English) and Leslie Hartness (French and Italian) in 1999, and 2000 recipients Rosalyn Page (history), Denise Brubaker (political science) and Jerry Byrd (Russian and East Asian languages), who received word of their awards in April.
The idea was to award two grants this year, but the strength of the proposals warranted more. Besides, the program was still fresh and could easily be molded.
"We were working toward two, but then we asked, 'Is there a reason there can't be three?" said de Man, who sat on the award committee. Next year may see four or five grants; there is room for expansion, and the number of awards depends on the quality of the applications.
Last year Hartness journeyed to Paris to see the study abroad program there, while de Man made the trip to the UK and found the experience enriching.
De Man visited several places across England and Scotland, met with administrators from the University of Sussex and St. Andrews, and immersed herself in art, history and culture. "These trips shouldn't be considered just business trips-they are for personal growth and enrichment," de Man said.
Hartness not only visited theaters, museums and cafes with students, but also met with her counterparts at the Emory/Duke/ Cornell consortium (EDUCO), which runs the program in Paris.
Byrd returned from his two-week trip to Russia (Moscow and St. Petersburg) on July 14. It was his third time in the country, but first since 1992. One of the reasons he wanted to go was to see how eight more years of capitalism had changed the place.
"The young people appeared happier and busier," Byrd said. In the early 1990s, Byrd said it was common for restaurants in Russia to advertise menu items they did not have. That wasn't the case anymore. While consumer goods were not as plentiful as they are in this country, the shelves were not empty. "The country as a whole was more lively. It's hardly prosperous, but there does appear to be a great dreal more promise than under Soviet rule," he said. "I went around to as many historical sites as I could, saw palaces and museums; I really enjoyed myself,"
Page will be visiting London, Oxford and St. Andrews for two weeks starting Aug. 7.
The trip will give her firsthand knowledge of the inner workings of Emory's study abroad programs there. For instance, she will visit the University of London, where she will meet people with whom she has corresponded by phone, letter and e-mail.
"Internationalization is an area that the college is focusing on, and there have been recent programs put into place for faculty research," Page said. "This is a very generous program to include staff in those areas."
Brubaker will also be spending time at Oxford-eight days out of a two-week trip that starts July 26-but unlike Page, she will be forging new relationships with members of the study abroad program in British studies there.
"This program is very popular among our majors," Brubaker said. She deals not only with political science students but with those in international studies as well. And the popular study abroad program at Oxford is open to students of any major; more than half its attendees in 1999-2000 came from political science or international studies.
"Once I have been there myself, I can better address questions from students about the program," she said. In addition to seeing Oxford, Brubaker hopes to join students on trips to other parts of England, such as Stratford-upon-Avon-Shakes-peare's birthplace-and Wales.
Brubaker's feelings echoed the de Man's. "Our students seem to view me as a sort of 'den mother,' and they're always asking me questions about the study abroad programs-everything from travel arrangements to historic sites," de Man said
"Now I've had a firsthand view of some of our programs, and I've discovered even more literary and historic sites to recommend. I definitely think the trip was beneficial-both for me personally and for our students."