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Study abroad offers summer opportunities

A day on the beach is not Stan Piotrowski’s idea of a fulfilling summer, so he took to the ocean. Last year, from June 29 to July 16, Piotrowski spent his time in the Cayman Islands conducting surveys on marine species while scuba diving.

Piotrowski, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, worked with students and renowned scientists from across the globe during his study abroad program. Living nearly 10 feet away from the Caribbean Sea, learning to identify species of stony corals and fish, Piotrowski said he had a once in a lifetime experience.

“It was like getting to live my dream as a marine biologist, spending three weeks in the middle of the Caribbean Sea, seeing things that most people see on National Geographic,” he said.

Piotrowski, dressed in a scuba suit, represented the Cayman Islands at the “2014 Summer Study Abroad Fair” last night at the Student Activities Center on the College Avenue campus. The

University’s Center for Global Education organized the fair, which featured nearly 40 study abroad and service learning opportunities available for Rutgers students to explore during the summer, said Loan Nguyen, marketing and outreach coordinator for the center.

“It meets a wide range of students’ interests in terms of activity or subject area,” she said. “Because of their schedule, students can’t commit a full semester, so we provide summer opportunities.”

Nguyen said nearly 75 to 80 students had attended the fair by 7 p.m. and they hoped for the number to go up to 100 by the end of the fair.

From traditional study abroad locations like France, China, Germany, Brazil, Australia and others to non-traditional service learning programs in Cuba, Senegal, Jordan and Turkey, Nguyen said the fair was evenly distributed between regions from many parts of the globe.

Faculty members from the School of Social Work, the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology and the Department of Asian Languages and Culture, among others, collaborated with the center to organize the fair.

Nguyen said the center had launched some new programs such as “The Microbiology and Culture of Cheese and Wine” and the service learning program in Senegal.


Victoria Lee, a School of Environmental and Biological Sciences junior, spent her time in France walking through the historical ruins of a religious center.

Under “The Microbiology and Culture of Cheese and Wine” program, Lee visited many wineries in France and learned how to age cheese.

“We learned how the production of one cheese is different from the other, why a certain cheese tastes different from another cheese,” she said. “In France, you get a sense of the cultural significance, and how much of a role wine and cheese plays in their culture.”


Danielle Steiner, a global ambassador for the center, said the best decision in her undergraduate life was to spend a semester doing a business program in Exeter, England.

Steiner, a Rutgers Business School senior, said besides looking good on a resume, a study abroad program helps in networking and gaining exposure to a lot of different cultures.

“I met the most amazing people in England,” she said. “My best experience was going to Ireland with my roommates on St. Patrick’s Day. It [happens] on a little lesser degree than here, but in Dublin, it is a big deal.”


The Youth (Performing) Artists and Community Development in Senegal is a brand-new service learning program split between Dakar, the capital of Senegal, and a rural region in the southern part of the country, said Greg Spear, international service learning coordinator for the center.

With a focus on areas like Africana studies, African literature, education, arts and cultural anthropology, Spear said, the program provides hands-on experience to students in visiting artist communities while they spend four weeks in Africa.


Carrie Manfrino, a Rutgers associate professor in the Department of Marine and Coastal Sciences, accompanied Piotrowski at the table for the Cayman Islands.

Manfrino, director of the Central Caribbean Marine Institute, said since 2000, about 60 to 80 students from Rutgers have visited the coral reef and conducted researched with the help of the “Tropical Marine Conservation” program.

“This program gives students the real tools to explore the marine areas,” she said. “Living on a coral reef, in a tropical setting, there is no way for something like this to be reproduced in New Jersey.”

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