sealPurdue News

May 15, 2003

School of Education introduces first study abroad programs

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Students in Purdue University's School of Education are preparing to begin two study abroad programs, the first to be offered in the teacher education program.

Ten students will travel to Russia for four weeks and four will go to Honduras for three weeks during Purdue's Maymester summer term, beginning Monday (5/19). During the program, participants will spend time both as students and as teachers.

The trips to Central America and Europe are the first to be offered as part of the School of Education's established curriculum instead of as electives. It has been difficult for the school to add a study abroad program due to strict state licensure requirements and a rigid curriculum, said Jerry L. Peters, interim dean of the School of Education.

Students in each program will complete two core classes required for all education students at Purdue. The Honduran program includes the first two teaching courses education students take – a class in multiculturalism and a class in exploring teaching careers. Students in the Russian program will earn credit in required courses on social studies and literacy education. All students will do preparatory work before leaving the United States and complete papers and projects after returning to campus.

JoAnn Phillion, an assistant professor of curriculum and instruction who heads up the Honduran program, said that the experience of teaching bilingual children and being immersed in another culture provides a much better experience than sitting in a classroom.

"Instead of talking about kids who are bilingual or live in other cultures, the students will be interacting with them and really understanding what that experience is like," Phillion said. "Many of the students don't speak very much Spanish, so living in a Spanish-speaking area will help them to know what everyday life is like for their students who do not speak very much English."

Lynn Nelson, an associate professor of curriculum and instruction, said adding the international component to teacher education is important to develop future teachers with an understanding of the world.

"Russia has an incredibly rich history and rich culture," said Nelson, who is overseeing the Russian program. "Introducing our students to that tradition will help cultivate their curiosity and their appreciation for the rest of the world. It will influence the materials they use in their classrooms and the interest will carry on to their students."

In both programs, students will spend time in local schools and after-school programs in St. Petersburg, Russia, and Zamorano, Honduras. They will have the opportunity to teach in English-language classrooms and assist with tutoring and other programs. School years in both countries last longer than in the United States, making the early summer term an ideal time for the trip.

"We're very excited to be able offer a study abroad experience to our students," Peters said. "As classrooms around the country become more diverse, it is imperative that teachers understand those diverse populations. For the future teachers who participate, the study abroad programs will provide an important complement to the multicultural component of our curriculum."

Nelson said he hopes Purdue students form lasting ties with the Russian and Honduran students they meet to help with future international classroom connections.

"Our goal is to provide students with international colleagues who will be able to provide assistance while they are teaching," Nelson said. "As technology has grown to include instantaneous electronic communication, it has made collaboration between elementary and high schools in different countries much easier for teachers."

Writer: Matt Holsapple, (765) 494-2073,

Sources: Jerry L. Peters, (765) 494-2336,

Lynn Nelson, (765) 494-2372,

Joann Phillion, (765) 494-2352,

Purdue News Service: (765) 494-2096;

Related Web site:
School of Education’s Honduras and Russia programs

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