New study abroad destinations to Amsterdam and Japan

By Kristen Solis                                                                                         Correspondent

Amsterdam and Japan are the two newest destinations added to the College’s Study Abroad Program for this summer. Though they may seem a world apart, each offers students opportunities for adventures that can open minds to another culture and perspective.

The Amsterdam trip, titled “Queer Amsterdam,” is being headed by Nelson Rodriguez, a women’s and gender studies professor at the College. For three undetermined weeks in late July and early August, Rodriguez will take a group of students to explore the rich LGBT culture of Amsterdam.

“LGBT is a front and center issue,” Rodriguez said. “The College has a growing demand for more LGBT studies with a global perspective.”

Students will be visiting many cultural parts of Amsterdam, studying with a LGBT lens. There will be a tour of the infamous Red Light District to focus on LGBT sex workers, a visit to the Hague and trips to several museums. The trip also corresponds with the Amsterdam PRIDE Parade on the canal, Europride and the annual Drag Queen Olympics. Students will have lectures from different speakers, as well, since the trip counts as WGS 240, “Introduction to Gay and Lesbian Studies.”

For the study abroad course in Japan, titled, “Contextualizing and Contributing to the Tohoku Region of Japan,” a focus is placed on Japanese histories and cultures. Students will study the coastal areas in the Tohoku region and the aftermath of the earthquake and tsunami of March 11, 2011 — better known as the Triple Disaster, due to how the natural disasters affected the nuclear reactors in the area.

Students will travel to Tohoku, Japan, to help rebuild the aftermath of a deadly tsunami.
Students will travel to Tohoku, Japan, to help rebuild the aftermath of a deadly tsunami.

Professor Atsuko Seto, who works in the Department of Counselor Education, and professor Holly Didi-Ogren of Japanese World Studies and Languages created the trip that will have students explore the rich cultural history of the Tohoku Region. The trip will also coordinate with local volunteer efforts for students to contribute to the rebuilding process. Seto thinks that this trip would be beneficial to students from different programs who would find it useful.

The rebuilding process is both a physical and emotional process that the entire region is still going through. Seto wants students to be able to be sensitive to the specific needs of the Tohoku region.

“(There are) lots of opportunities for students to help people, but not in a vacuum,” Didi-Ogren said. 

Seto explained that there was an elementary school that lost most of students and faculty that day, and the region still has not rebuilt the school or moved the remnants of the destroyed structure. They are still trying to figure out how to best honor those who died that day.

Both professors compared this to America’s own rebuilding process after Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast.

“Natural disasters are a global challenge, not isolated issues,” Seto said.

If students are interested in either of these new study abroad programs, they can visit the Center for Global Engagement website.