With over 3,000 international students attending Iowa State, it is no surprise that students are eager to share and expand their diverse cultures and practices.
Onalie Ariyabandhu, sophomore in economics, is from Sri Lanka and has been working fervently to create a study abroad program for Iowa Students to visit her home country.
Assisted by Jane Dusselier, assistant professor of anthropology, the program is now set up and ready to go for the coming summer. The first study abroad session will start in July 2013.
"We thought of trying something new, and [Dusselier] became interested," Ariyabandhu said. "All of a sudden we were forming a study abroad program."
Dusselier wrote a grant to the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and once it was approved, Dusselier visited Sri Lanka for a site visit to develop the program.
The Sri Lanka study abroad program is for three weeks in July, and students will have the opportunity to delve into the culture and history of the country.
“We will be going to six of the eight UNESCO heritage sites, historical sites, a platinum textile factory, a tea factory, industries, religious temples both Hindu and Buddhist — it will be all field visits," Ariyabandhu said. "There won’t be a classroom."
Ariyabandhu said she thinks this study abroad program will be a huge benefit for Iowa State.
“The reason I wanted to initiate this program is because I want people to know my culture and my country. I want them to appreciate our diversity; we have such a large history, and many sites," Ariyabandhu said. "I want people to know and be able to identify my country. It would really benefit the students to experience a very different culture."
“I teach Anthropology 230, a globalization class, and nothing is more frustrating to me then students who don’t know anything more than Iowa,” Dusselier said. “I’m tired of teaching globalization to students who haven’t traveled. I really wanted to get involved in study abroad to encourage all students to travel.”
Although studying abroad may put students out of their comfort zone, Dusselier believes the experience is beneficial to students.
“We need to get students out of their comfort zone into a radically different culture; not Spain, or England, or Europe, but a new and challenging place,” Dusselier said.
Dusselier said she encourages study abroad more and more in class, as she believes it is a serious aspect in a fulfilling future.
“I wish everyone could study abroad," Dusselier said. "There are so many options."
This particular program will allow students to earn three credits in anthropology, but it can be flexible for an LAS elective. The total cost for the entire program, including class credits, transportation, accommodation and entrance into the sites, will be around $3,500. More information can be found through the study abroad center.
“It’s a tiny island in southeast Asia, but it encompasses such rich culture and history," Dusselier said. "There is so much to do, and students will have an opportunity to see it all in three weeks."