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Study Abroad Scholarships Awarded to North Park Students

Andrew Kunieda with host family in Morelia, Mexico

CHICAGO, IL (August 11, 2008) - North Park University student, Sarah Arden, has recently been awarded the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship to participate in a Fall 2008 study abroad program. Arden, a junior sociology student from Elgin, IL, will be studying at the University of Ghana (Legon, Ghana) through the International Student Exchange Program, a network of schools throughout the world of which North Park University has been a member since 2004. In addition to enrolling in sociology classes and taking a Twi language class, while in Ghana Arden hopes to study the interplay of Christianity, Islam, and indigenous tribal religions in Western Africa.

The Gilman Scholarship Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and administered by the Institute of International Education, aims to diversify the kinds of students who study abroad and the countries and regions where they go. Congressman Gilman, who retired in 2002 after serving in the House of Representatives for 30 years and chairing the House Foreign Relations Committee, commented, “Study abroad is a special experience for every student who participates. Living and learning in a vastly different environment of another nation not only exposes our students to alternate views, but also adds an enriching social and cultural experience. It also provides our students with the opportunity to return home with a deeper understanding of their place in the world, encouraging them to be a contributor, rather than a spectator in the international community” (www.iie.org/gilman).

A unique aspect of the Gilman Scholarship program is its requirement of a “follow-on project.” After completing a study abroad program, each Gilman scholar designs and implements a project to promote study abroad, the Gilman Scholarship, or global learning in general to her or his university or local community. For her follow-on project, Arden will work with the North Park international office to promote study abroad to non-traditional student groups. An older student and a graduate of a community college, Arden is uniquely placed to market study abroad opportunities to North Park’s diverse student body. Arden is especially excited to utilize her extracurricular interest in photography to document her time abroad and use these images encourage others to study abroad, especially those with limited financial resources who think that studying abroad is not a financially viable option. The Gilman Scholarship Program, in particular, is only available to students who are Pell Grant recipients.

Another North Park student, senior Andrew Kunieda, received a Gilman scholarship last year to study in Mexico during the spring 2008 semester. North Park’s study abroad program in Morelia was established in 1984 to give students eight weeks of language instruction and host-family interaction. Kunieda, who is double majoring in Spanish and Art, used his award money to remain in Morelia for an additional eight weeks, during which he completed an internship at Morelia’s NOE Center, a non-profit organization that provides classes in art and English. As part of his follow-on project, Kunieda plans to recruit US volunteers to work at an eye clinic in Toluca, Mexico, and to use his improved language skills as a translator for the mission organization.

Current North Park students who wish to learn more about studying abroad and prospective students who want to find out what North Park’s International Office has to offer are invited to check the office website Questions may also be directed to Jennifer Pope, Director of the International Office, at 773-244-5553 or through e-mail.