Sunday, December 03, 2000

Study-abroad program enriches Miami students

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        OXFORD — When Victoria Binford of Lincoln Heights enrolled at Miami University four years ago, she didn't think she'd end up studying in Mexico.

        But last year, as a junior studying education and Spanish, she enrolled for six months at the Universidad Pan Americana in Mexico City.

        Ms. Binford is a part of a growing trend at Miami and other schools — studying in a foreign country. Miami's program is expanding from its original European focus to other parts of the world.

        “It broadens your whole horizon and opens your eyes,” she said. “A lot of people here come from a rich background and they don't know what's out there. Studying in another country gives them a good idea about what the world is like.”

[photo] Miami University student Victoria Binford (left) of Lincoln Heights talks with Marcia Waller, student abroad adviser. Ms. Binford, one of hundreds of Miami students in foreign-study programs, enrolled for six months at the Universidad Pan Americana, Mexico City.
(Dick Swaim photo)
| ZOOM |
        This month, Miami was ranked No. 7 in the nation in the number of students who study abroad.

        In the 1998-99 academic year, 1,110 Miami students received academic credit for international study programs. Nationally, 129,770 students participated in such programs, according to an annual report issued by the Institute of International Education.

        The IIE ranked only three other Ohio institutions: Ohio State, 889 participants; University of Dayton, 300; and Oberlin College, 286, said Holly Wissing, a Miami spokeswoman.

        Ms. Binford said she isn't the typical Miami study-abroad student because she arranged her visit through a consortium of schools, which uses some government money to pay for the visits.

        “We stayed with host families,” she said. “That was a plus and a minus. I got to see up close and personal the personalities of people in the Hispanic culture. You get to have a real-life family atmosphere. The negative side is, you're not family, and at times you feel that way.”

        Traditionally, Miami students study at Miami's Luxembourg campus, but that is changing, said Marcia Waller, study abroad adviser.

        “We have a block of about 200 students who do the Luxembourg program because it is our campus abroad, but the students have been spreading out to so many places — even Australia. They go directly into universities. It's so accessible. It's that easy now.”

        Europe remains a popular destination, she said, but students are also going to Africa, Asia and Latin America.

        “Miami's international programs reflect this trend with students studying not only at the university's Dolibois European Center in Luxembourg, but in 34 other countries, including Australia and Ghana,” Ms. Wissing said.


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