July 17, 2009 by Justin Bannister NMSU News Center
Most college students spend their summer vacation trying to get as far away from school as possible. Morgan Nelson, a senior at New Mexico State University, wound up eight time zones away from New Mexico, but his trip was different – he did it with the help of NMSU and the university’s Aggies Go Global program.
“I had never been abroad,” said Nelson, who is majoring in economics as well as agricultural economics and agribusiness.
Nelson is one of the first students to take part in Aggies Go Global, a partnership between NMSU’s International Relations Institute, Study Abroad Programs, Career Services and the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. It promotes international opportunities for students as well as positive student experiences while traveling and studying abroad.
“This is an opportunity for students to see how connected we are to other nations,” said Delano Lewis, a senior fellow at NMSU and the director of the International Relations Institute. “It’s imperative to the completeness of one’s education to see how other nations are structured, their religion, their culture and what we share in common.”
Lewis is a former U.S. ambassador to South Africa.
“We live in a small world, and we wanted to enhance the international opportunities for students,” said Gary R. Lowe, global mentoring coordinator for the program. “With cell phones and e-mail, we are so connected. But unfortunately, we are often isolated in this country.”
He said international travel is encouraged at universities across the U.S. as a way for students to gain broader perspectives of cultures and the way people interact.
Nelson spent two weeks traveling to London, Paris and other parts of Europe. Lowe and Richard Phillips, project coordinator for Aggies Go Global, helped him with travel arrangements, and assisted in establishing contacts in agriculture and agricultural policy – a field Nelson wanted to learn more about during his trip.
“Our students are very good academically, but this international experience takes them to the next level,” Phillips said. “Our students weren’t interested in the traditional study abroad classes. They wanted to do research and community outreach.”
During Nelson’s trip, he kept a blog where he wrote about his travels and his various meetings with European and agricultural officials as well as NMSU alums in Europe.
Additional students in the program are currently visiting the countries of Belize and Cambodia while others are planning trips to Mexico, Kenya and Tokyo.
“We are looking for more involvement from across the university, especially in helping to advise students about suitability of programs for their academic objectives,” said Paul Huntsberger, NMSU’s assistant dean for Study Abroad. His office manages student exchanges and similar programs for the NMSU system.
Any students interested in taking part in the program should contact Phillips at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (575) 646-2353.