Faculty-led study abroad has a long and proud history at Mary Washington. Many Mary Wash alumni will remember, or maybe even participated in, the European Capitols tour with Professor Emeritus of Political Science Jack Kramer, and Associate Professor Emeritus of History Porter Blakemore, which started in the summer of 1992 and continued for over 20 years. Current UMW faculty continue to lead their students “Beyond the Classroom” into new places and cultures to learn over winter, spring, and summer breaks. In the summer of 2023, nine UMW faculty and their students spent a big chunk of their summer traveling across the globe together, experiencing the subjects of their study in person: from historic preservation and digital studies students in Paris, theatre students in London, art history and archeology students in Italy, business and language students in Bilbao, Spain, and of course we can’t forget the sunny south of France for some lucky French language students!
Dr. Jose Sainz, Director of the Center for International Education and Associate Professor of Spanish has been taking students for the summer program UMW in Spain to Dr. Sainz’s home town of Bilbao, Spain since 2002. As UMW’s longest running faculty-led program, Dr. Sainz and his colleague Associate Professor of Spanish Dr. Marisa Martínez-Mira have introduced the wonders of Spanish culture to hundreds of UMW students over the years. In summer of 2023, ten UMW students traveled to Bilbao, in Spain’s northern Basque Country. As part of the program, students also visited Madrid, Toledo, Pamplona, San Sebastian, as well as some local towns outside Bilbao (Gernika, Plentzia, Getxo and Sopelana). Many students also took advantage of a free weekend during the five-week program to travel on their own, with students choosing to explore Barcelona and La Rioja in Spain, and Biarritz in France. Students took Spanish language, literature, and culture classes, as well as business courses taught in English. Many lived with host families, while others stayed in a residence hall on the campus of the University of Deusto. Besides touring some of the main landmarks in Spain (such as the Museo del Prado in Madrid, the Museo Guggenheim in Bilbao, and World Heritage site of the medieval city of Toledo), one of the cultural highlights for the students is always watching he Running of the Bulls in Pamplona.
Sixteen UMW students and Assistant Professor of Theatre Marc Williams spent three weeks in London for the inaugural UMW Theatre in London program. Students attended at least sixteen productions including seven world premieres at major venues like the National Theatre as well as fringe companies like Southwark Playhouse and the Bush Theatre. They spent two days in Stratford-upon-Avon touring Shakespeare sites and attended two productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company. Students enjoyed backstage tours of the Royal Opera House, Theatre Royal Drury Lane, and the National Theatre and also visited historic sites like Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London.
France was the most popular destination for UMW students in the summer of 2023. Three different groups of UMW students studied in two parts of France–Historic Preservation in Paris, Digital Studies in Paris, and French Studies in Aix-en-Provence.
Professor of French Brooke Di Lauro took a group of students again this past summer on the UMW in France program, centered in the southern town of Aix-en-Provence, founded in 123 B.C. Their study of French art, history, and culture included a stop in at Cézanne’s home and studio and a hike through the Montagne Sainte Victoire which inspired him. Students had the opportunity for an additional excursion to Paris.
Thirteen UMW students spent the month of July in Paris for HISP 470: Preservation Abroad, led by Professor of Historic Preservation Dr. Andrea Smith, who is a native of Paris. The course focused on the architecture, planning, and preservation of Paris, France. Over the course of the trip, the students visited sites like the Sainte-Chapelle, Catacombs, Opéra Garnier, and Luxemburg Gardens. Particular highlights this year included the visit to the Musée d’Orsay, which was once used as a train station. While walking the galleries, students were excited to see a Gari Melchers painting prominently displayed! The visit to the Père La chaise also included a reminder of Fredericksburg: the students checked on the condition of Eliza Hay’s grave. Daughter to President James Monroe, her remains rest in the American section of the Parisian cemetery. This year’s class also went to multiple day trips outside the city, including to Rouen, most famous for being where Joan of Arc was burned at the stake. Students were able to visit the dungeon where she was kept. Highlights of the trip can be found in the blogs of students who attended the trip. The blog posts are aggregated at hisp470.umwsites.net.
Cartland Berge, Director of the UMW Digital Knowledge Center and his colleague Shannon Hauser, Assistant Director of the DKC, also led a group of students to Paris. They focused on Digital Media Production in France, spending a month in Paris experiencing the history, sites, and culture of the city, and produced a weekly live YouTube show informed by those experiences, which can be streamed on the course website umwlive.com.
Over the years many faculty children have traveled with their parents and the students on these summer adventures. Dr. Smith’s young daughter took her turn “teaching” at a museum of wrought and cast iron in Rouen. Coming full circle is Dr. Sainz’s son Jonan, who has been going to Bilbao with his dad every summer, and now is a new first-year student at Mary Washington this fall!