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CSB/SJU extends international commitment beyond academic year

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September 22, 2006

Students at the College of Saint Benedict and Saint John’s University attend classes on two campuses. But for many students this summer, their education had no physical boundaries.

CSB/SJU expanded their commitment to global education this summer by providing students and the surrounding communities with global resources, and sponsoring programs for international travel, study and cultural immersion.

“International education programs broaden the awareness of all members of our campus community and make our colleges more effective and successful participants in the vast network of global institutions – governmental, privates, non-governmental organizations and educational – beyond our borders,” said Dallas Kenny, dean of international and experiential education at CSB/SJU.

“This broader knowledge base allows both the institution and its constituent members to participate in unique learning experiences and opportunities to provide leadership and instruction in unique areas of expertise to a wider audience,” Kenny said.

Four programs were offered through international education this summer – two established programs and two new programs.
“With each passing year, it becomes apparent just how great an impact these programs and others have had on internationalism at CSB/SJU,” said Dave Bennetts, executive director of the World Leaders and AmeriCulture camps, and chair of the CSB/SJU history department.

The World Leaders Camp, part of the WorldStar Program, is a new program offered by CSB/SJU for incoming first-year students who aspire to a successful career in the new global economy. Not only do students experience influential world cultures, but they also study global business practices and develop intercultural communication skills for future success.

Thirty students attended this year’s camp, which was held July 16-30 on the CSB/SJU campuses.

“Through our WorldStar program, students establish lifetime friendships and join a global network of successful graduates,” Kenny said, noting that among the 165 member universities in the AsiaNetwork, CSB/SJU has the largest number of “Asia hands” pursuing professional careers in Asia-related jobs.

 This summer, CSB/SJU also intensified their collaboration with Southwest University (SWU) in Beibei, Chongqing, China, by sponsoring a unique 12-week Summer Science Research Exchange Program. During the program, 16 students from CSB/SJU and SWU conducted research in the areas of chemistry, biology and physics. The students spent six weeks at SWU and then traveled to CSB/SJU for the last six weeks of the program.

As partners for 20 years, the schools were able to engage in a truly reciprocal exchange of students. CSB/SJU students and faculty have been traveling to SWU each fall, but until now, no groups of students from SWU have come to CSB/SJU to study.

This program is also notable in that it allows science majors to study abroad, which is often hard to do because of class and lab schedules and science major requirements during the academic year. It also provides the campuses and the CSB/SJU community with a new opportunity for global engagement.

CSB/SJU also continued established international education programs with the summer ESL program and the AmeriCulture Camp.

The summer ESL program at CSB/SJU provides junior high, high school and college-level students from Japan with the opportunity to improve their English and become immersed in American culture. Since the inception of the program in 1989, more than 1,000 participants have taken part in the program. Approximately 25 have become full-time, degree-seeking students at CSB/SJU.

Over the years, these programs have encouraged greater student participation in CSB/SJU study abroad programs, as well as greater enrollment of international students.

“What is truly unique about these summer programs is the ripple effect they have had on internationalism on our campuses,” Bennetts said.

The summer ESL program not only benefits the students participating in it; members of the CSB/SJU community are choosing to get involved as well. Since the program began nearly 20 years ago, 500 families from Minnesota, Iowa and South Dakota have welcomed Japanese students for weekend home stays.

The schools’ summer programs also included the AmeriCulture Camp. The camp works closely with partner schools in China, Chile, Spain and Japan to provide international high school students with opportunities to travel to the United States, where they are able to experience a taste of American culture and improve their level of spoken English.

Although all four programs have their own focus, each is linked through shared experiences on campus. Students are able to meet others from different cultures while living in residence communities, participating in social events and learning from peers. 

Summer international education programs at CSB/SJU are only a prelude to the academic year. CSB/SJU offers more than 200 courses that have global or intercultural content within them, and offers 17 semester-long study abroad programs led by a CSB/SJU faculty member who also teaches in the program. CSB/SJU has the highest number of faculty-led semester abroad programs among liberal arts colleges in the United States.