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NEWS

May 22, 2008

RSU Students Travel to Italy on University's First Study Abroad Trip

A group of Rogers State University students embarked on the trip of a lifetime Thursday, May 22, as they began their summer study abroad program in Italy.

Three faculty members led the group of 20 RSU students to Montone, Italy, for a four-week educational journey overseas.

This trip will mark the first time RSU has coordinated its own study abroad program, said Gary Moeller, interim head of the RSU Department of Fine Arts. In the past, RSU students participated in other universities' ventures.

"This trip will immerse RSU students in the world of art outside the United States," Moeller said. "In Italy, students will experience a different culture and see works from many of the masters in the field."

Moeller said he worked with students, faculty and staff during the past two years to plan the trip and hopes the university will be able to offer other study abroad trips for students in the future.

The RSU Foundation was able to provide some scholarship funds to help offset the students' cost of the trip.

As students soak in the culture and practice their Italian, they will also be hard at work creating pieces of art while in Montone, said Bryce Brimer, assistant RSU art professor.

Montone is a medieval village in the hill country of Umbria in central Italy. This will be the seventh trip to Montone for Moeller and the second for Brimer.

Brimer said his first trip was part of his graduate work in fine arts and had a significant impact on him.

"I had never been out of the country before and it was an amazing experience, one that I am glad we can share with RSU students," he said.

Brimer said he is looking forward to teaching students about art in one of the cultural centers of the world.

The trip will include a lot of "firsts" for RSU students, especially Meagan Edmonds.

The trip to Italy will mark the Chouteau native's first airplane flight and her first time to travel more than a few hundred miles from Oklahoma.

Edmonds, a fine arts student who just completed her sophomore year, said she is excited and nervous about the trip.

"I am looking forward to seeing the art that I have seen for years in textbooks, in person," she said.

Going on the trip will also be RSU's first-ever student blogger Jennifer Hanley.

Hanley will be writing a blog (short for web log) of her experiences in Italy and started several weeks ago to chronicle her preparations for the trip in words and pictures. For more information about the trip and to view her blog visit www.rsuitaly.blogspot.com.

Hanley, a fine arts student who recently finished her junior year at RSU, said she has been blogging personally for more than a year and is looking forward to blogging about the trip for RSU.

She said she hopes people will read the blog and experience Italy along with her.

"I have been dreaming of traveling to Europe for as long as I can remember," Hanley said. "The RSU trip is making one of my dreams a reality."

She said she is giddy with excitement and wants to take in as much of the "food, art, culture and language" as she can.

The RSU studies-at-large program is not limited to art students, said Dr. James Ford, RSU religion and philosophy professor and director of the university's Honors Program.

"It is so important to provide our students with this kind of opportunity for cultural and intellectual enrichment," Ford said. "I know that the honors students are thrilled to be able to share in this once-in-a-lifetime educational experience with the students and faculty from the Fine Arts department. Italy has such a rich cultural history; this trip really expands our students' horizons."

In addition to living and studying in Montone, the RSU group will be traveling to Rome, Florence and Assisi. At the end of the trip, students will have an art exhibit in Montone to show their work, Moeller said.

"In Italy students will learn about the importance of art and see a culture that truly embraces art and artists," he said.

More information about the program is available by visiting www.rsu.edu/academics/fine-arts/italy/

Students participating in the RSU trip to Italy include:

  • Rachel Adkins of Claremore
  • Bree Bedsworth of Skiatook
  • Amanda Borchardt of Claremore
  • Kaitie Bryan of Owasso
  • Lynne Crockett of Claremore
  • Donna Jo Dunn of Pryor
  • Meagan Edmonds of Chouteau
  • Brandon Gaffney of Claremore and Pawhuska
  • Jennifer Hanley of Claremore
  • Greg Howard of Tulsa
  • Kendra Lemons of Pryor
  • Alice Mattingly of Claremore
  • Sheri Pack of Collinsville
  • Rob Paine of Claremore
  • Marilyn Barraza of Broken Arrow
  • Rebecca Reed of Hominy
  • Whitney Robison of Oologah
  • Charlotte Robinson of Morris
  • Cayla Spears of Pryor
  • Jennifer White of Oologah