Institute for Comparative and International Studies
(ICIS) secretary Greg Cheek had never traveled outside the United
States when he was given the opportunity last May to visit Emory’s
two study abroad sites in Sydney, Australia.
“Since I began working at Emory three years ago, I have greeted
many students who were interested in studying abroad,” Cheek
said. “I have provided them with general information, received
their applications and sometimes talked with them when they returned.
But I had not been able to see the entire process until I actually
traveled to another country, encountered the similarities and differences,
and used foreign currency.”
Cheek was one of several Emory staff members whose summer included
a professional experience abroad. His journey was supported by the
ICIS Professional Development Grant, now in its third year.
“Our staff are often the first to welcome and instruct people
about the various international programs with which we are involved,”
said Gordon Newby, ICIS executive director. “It is very important
for them to know about the world.”
Now, as the only staff member who has visited the programs at the
universities of Sydney and New South Wales, Cheek is able to share
both valuable information with study abroad advisors and enthusiasm
“One interested student recently said to me, ‘I’ve
never gone to Australia before,’ and I said, ‘Well,
I just went for the first time, and it was absolutely wonderful,’”
Cheek said. “I think she became more motivated to study abroad
than she already was.”
Alta Schwartz, outreach coordinator for ICIS and the Middle East
and South Asian Studies program, was the second recipient of last
year’s grant and recently returned from two weeks in Israel
as a member of an interfaith delegation observing the Israeli/Palestinian
“The trip was completely relevant to what I do every day,”
Schwartz said of her work promoting understanding of Middle Eastern
issues within Emory and the Atlanta community.
Though she has studied the region for more than a decade, Schwartz’s
personal experience in the Middle East had been limited before the
“What is going on there is almost incomprehensible without
experiencing it first hand; I was completely unprepared for what
I saw, especially the effect of the wall,” she said, referring
to the Israeli security barrier being erected on confiscated Palestinian
land in the West Bank. Schwartz spent a day riding along this barrier
and described what is left in the wake of its hasty construction:
uprooted ancient olive trees, Palestinian farmers cut off from their
harvests, and depressing debris.
“I now feel I can give people, with a certain degree of confidence,
a snapshot of what it is like over there,” she said.
Kathy Kite, senior associate director of programs for the Lillian
Carter Center for International Nursing (LCCIN), had traveled to
Germany before but never imagined the people she would meet when
an open spot allowed her to join the Halle Institute for Global
Learning’s faculty study trip in May.
“It was an extraordinary experience for a staff person to
be able to join the faculty on that trip not only for personal reasons,”
Kite said, “but because it has allowed me to bring something
back to the University and to my work with the [Nell Hodgson Woodruff
School of Nursing’s] international programs.” She cited
meeting the general responsible for reunifying the armies of East
and West Germany as a highlight.
Nursing Dean Marla Salmon, who nominated Kite for the trip, said
the LCCIN already has benefited from Kite’s enhanced network
across campus and strengthened sense of commitment and purpose.
“I am a firm believer that the academic enterprise is only
successful when faculty and staff work in true partnership based
on a common vision, purpose and understanding of the important work
of universities,” Salmon said. “We attend to developing
our faculty but do not give nearly enough thought or resources to
the development of staff.
“For those of us who work in the international arena,”
Salmon said, “it is particularly important to have staff who
understand the nature of this work and have experiences that connect
them to its significance in the life of the University. We all stand
Lailee Mendelson is communications specialist for the Office of