Center for International Education
Fall 2007

The International Affairs foreign experience requirement: Where can it take you?

by Catherine D’Auteuil, CIE Coordinator of Student Programs

Roberts while on duty in Uganda.  Roberts completed her IA foreign experience through the UNH International Research Opportunities Program.
Roberts while on duty in Uganda. Roberts completed her IA foreign experience through the UNH International Research Opportunities Program.

The International Affairs (IA) dual major provides any undergraduate student at UNH with the opportunity to internationalize their disciplinary major and to globalize their education by living and learning in new environments. An important component of the program is the foreign experience requirement which gives students the opportunity to work, intern, conduct research, volunteer or study abroad. The common goal, regardless of academic discipline or the route taken, is immersion in the language and culture of the country.

As coordinator of student programs here at the Center for International Education, I am fortunate to advise these students who have the commitment and independence to select a program that gives special enhancement to their academic goals and personal interests.

Emily Roberts is such a student. An IA/Nursing dual major, Emily traveled to Bulangira, Uganda, on a grant from the UNH International Research Opportunities Program (IROP) to pursue research on "Nurses Performing Triage in Uganda: Decision-Making in Low Resource Settings." Prior to that, Emily was involved with a short-term volunteer program in the Dominican Republic, working with a health center and children’s programs. A connection made during her time there led her to the man who would become her host father in Uganda. It was this brief, initial experience in the Dominican Republic that fueled her interest to go above and beyond the traditional study program abroad to meet her IA foreign experience requirement.

Through her activities abroad, Emily has played multiple roles: researcher, student, volunteer and health professional. One of the most admirable outcomes of her experience is Emily’s willingness to work here on campus to continue providing support for the work being done in Uganda. In October she organized the performance of three UNH a cappella singing groups-- Maiden Harmony, Not Too Sharp, and Alabaster Blue -- to raise money to fund nursing school fees for Hellen Adengo, her colleague at the Uganda health center.

For IA/Environmental Conservation alumna Florence Reed, a semester of study in Guatemala provided focus for the direction her work would take after college. Her interest in Central America came as a result of a class she took called Latin American Civilization and Culture. Upon graduation she joined the Peace Corps to work in Panama for two years. Reed is now executive director of her own organization, Sustainable Harvest International in Surry, ME, whose mission is to facilitate "long-term collaboration among trained local staff, farmers and communities that alleviate poverty by restoring ecological stability."

The International Affairs dual major is an important component of the undergraduate curriculum at UNH, providing students with the tools to function in the world in a way that will lead them to their own success stories.