Symposium brings pieces of the world to UVU

Reading Time: 2 minutes Students can learn about various social and political issues in other countries at the Study Abroad Symposium.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Giving students the opportunity to share and present their study abroad experiences, the Peace and Justice Studies Study Abroad Symposium will be held Nov. 28 and 29 in the Library Auditorium.


Starting at 8:30 a.m., the symposium will feature the research of various students who spent this past summer in Cuba, Haiti and the Middle East and include panel discussions throughout the day.


“It’s an opportunity for the school and surrounding community to see something of value of [the study abroad program],” said Michael Minch, director of the Peace and Justice Studies Program. “If [students] come, they’ll get a strong sense of what it’s all about.”


Approximately 28 students had the opportunity to take part in the study abroad program, and most will be presenting at the symposium.


From “Vodou and Art” in Haiti to “Perceptions of the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict,” the research topics cover a multitude of issues and vary greatly.


The countries are visited every other year, allowing for some variation within the program. The countries were selected for two basic reasons: They look at countries where there might be some ties that will help logistically, and second, they choose countries where students have the opportunity to study elements that are in line with their discipline.


One of the students presenting, Ang DeMarco, had the opportunity to take part in the study abroad program twice. She went to Northern Ireland in 2011 and Haiti this past summer.


“Their programs aren’t focused on the scenery,” DeMarco said. “PJST study abroad programs give you the opportunity to meet practitioners who work in peace, conflict resolution, development, social change, etc. and learn how to go about addressing real world issues.”


In Cuba, students were able to learn the political history of Cuba and the impact it has had on the country, while taking various courses at the University of Havana.


The conflict among the Palestinians and Israelis gave the students who visited the Middle East to study the history and events that have led to the turmoil and meet with individuals working toward peace in the Middle East.


“Haiti is the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, and among the top five poorest in the world,” Minch said.


Students had the opportunity to meet with UN officers and other non-governmental organizations addressing the poverty problems in Haiti.


“We also experienced the beautiful people, culture, language and country of Haiti,” DeMarco said. “I was overwhelmed with the kindness, generosity, strength, and resilience of Haitians in light of their circumstances.”


DeMarco was so impacted by her time in Haiti, that she will be returning in January for a six-month internship.


This marks the symposium’s second year, along with the department’s second year of its study abroad program.


The Peace and Justice Studies study abroad program is open to all majors and disciplines.


Currently, the program is continuing to expand with a study abroad to Russia and Central Asia in 2014, and is working on a program in China and Uganda in the future.