Vol. 3, No. 1: Spring/Summer 2007

Everything Clicked

by Alison Hamm

When IU senior Amy Lynn Herman was in high school, she had a life-changing experience. She came to Bloomington for two weeks.

In those two weeks, Amy participated in the International Studies Summer Institute (ISSI), a program sponsored by the Center for the Study of Global Change and the Office of International Programs. Though the summer institute is now only open to teachers, at the time, both students and teachers could participate. So when a teacher recommended it, Amy, who was participating in a global awareness class, thought it would be a beneficial experience. “I was immediately drawn to it,” she says.

Once at the institute, Amy not only was introduced to not only other students from around the globe, but she also got to meet people who would later become her professors and familiarize herself with local businesses, scholars, and community members with a global mindset. “Everything clicked,” she says. “It really opened my eyes. I got to spend two weeks with students my own age from all over the world. Where I’m from [Evansville], experiences are limited for people who are interested in global issues.”

The summer institute helped Amy realize that she didn’t need to go far from home to have such experiences. While there, she learned about IU’s International Studies Program, which is now, along with African studies, her major. “The program really set me up,” she says. “It’s served as a reference point in many different ways.” That’s the truth. While at IU, Amy has worked as an outreach assistant for the African Studies Program, where she helps provide K–12 teachers with educational resources to promote global awareness, and she’s also participated in “Conversations about Service & Engagement (CASE International),” an interactive videoconference program with students from around the globe. Last summer, she interned for the Canadian Parliament as part of a program also sponsored by the Center for the Study of Global Change.

But that was only for the first half of her summer. As the recipient of the Hutton Honors Research Grant for West Africa, Amy got to fly from Canada to Senegal, where she worked on her research. She also spent time in Ghana, Mali, Burkina Faso, and Gambia, and is now using her research for her international studies senior thesis. Amy credits the summer institute for her initial knowledge about Africa, thanks to the discussions about urban versus rural development regarding the issue of “How do you feed nine billion people?” the program’s theme that year.

It also prepared her for college. She compares the fast pace of the program to the one where she works now as a senior. “It proved to me that I could do college work” she says. “Coming [to IU], I felt more confident about my abilities.” Of her participation in the institute, she concludes, “Teachers can disseminate the knowledge, but when students have the experience firsthand, it’s transformative.”

Alison Hamm is a Web content specialist in the IU Office of Creative Services.

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