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Bachelor's Degree With Individual Concentration

Fall 2007 Newsletter
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Student Spotlight

A Mother and Daughter Tradition

In 1974, Mary Donahue earned a BDIC degree in Pre-Physical Therapy.  While in BDIC, Mary put together internships at the University Health Services and the former Belchertown State School.  She integrated art therapy, plant therapy and pet therapy into her work. These were very new practices at the time and weren’t always so well received by Mary’s employers.  Mary also organized a volunteer exchange between UMass students and Belchertown State School clients so that the Belchertown clients could swim at the UMass pool under the supervision of UMass student interns.  After graduation, Mary worked in an outreach capacity to help clients eliminated from state hospitals to find employment opportunities.  Later, Mary changed gears in her career path and earned a master’s degree in Environmental Planning and Conservation.  For many years since she has worked as the Conservation Commissioner in Chicopee, MA after having worked at the same position in Amherst.

Elizabeth Klein is currently enrolled in the BDIC Proposal Writing class.  She is constructing a concentration entitled International Business and Spanish.  Elizabeth is Mary Donahue’s daughter!



Reflections of Time Spent Abroad

Each semester, record numbers of BDIC students take advantage of the opportunity to study abroad. Following, is a copy of a note from BDIC’s Sophia Gianniotis, Sustainable Community Development and Ecotourism.  Sophia is currently on exchange in Nepal. Sophia says in her note:

Dear everyone,

 It was so nice to hear back from a few of you and I promise to try and write some more individual emails!

So I've been here for a bit longer now, about two weeks and am settling into Kathmandu well.  The hectic pace of the city is stressful and it's very dirty but for all of that there is still so much about this city that I love. It is stunningly beautiful in so many ways - the architecture, people, history – and is also very special in less obvious ways.  Walking by jasmine spilling over a brick wall outside of school after a 45 minute sweaty and noisy walk from my homestay is an instant pick-up!

 My classes have been fantastic so far. The Nepali language course is really difficult as it's an intensive for two hours a day and has been more of a challenge to pick up than I had thought it would be.  Slowly though it's making its way into my memory and hopefully I'll have a breakthrough of some sort :)

The Culture and Development seminar has been the best part academically by far.  Our teachers are absolutely incredible and have so much to teach in such an intense and interesting manner.  So far, we've been talking about caste & ethnicity in Nepal, Nepali history, social entrepreneurship, religion, Nepal's current conflict, the peace process, Indian relations and an intro to international development. We've been reading many different articles and books, from Edward Said's "Orientalism" to Malcolm Gladwell's “Tipping Point" and Wolfgang Sach's book on development. This, in addition to many others, has kept me very busy!  The teachers are inspired and accomplished and have a great way of instilling a feeling of empowerment. The other students are also really smart, from all over the US and are really nice too. We all went to a jazz club and then reggae club the other night for our first real bonding night-out experience!

My host family is very nice; they're a middle class family of nine living in an area called Sukedhara.  They're of Chettri caste (2nd to Bahun) and are pretty traditional but in a relaxed way.  I have my own room, which is wonderful; I spend a good amount of time holed up reading.  My "sister" (or "didi" in Nepali) cooks for the family, everynight we have daal bhaat (rice and lentils)
and some tarkari (curried veggies).  It's absolutely amazing how much rice they eat! I’ve become good at excusing myself out of so much food, last night it was a terrible stomach ache. I dont like to fib, but I’ve explained that I just can't eat that much but it hasn't worked; wasting any food is a big taboo. It’s also been a little awkward getting used to eating with my hands while my whole family watches - rice and lentils is not really what we think of as "finger food"!

So in addition, my didi makes me breakfast, which varies from fresh French fries and roti (torilla) with curry sauce to a big bowl of cookies to anything in between; its been a pretty new experience! I walk to school almost every morning, and generally go to Thamel after school to study at a cafe or
the library in Naxal.  It's usually too noisy at home to do a whole lot!

I’m also beginning to think about my Independent Study Project (ISP) which comes up towards the end of the semester. Basically we choose a topic and go off on our own (traveling, finding accommodations etc) and research for a month before culminating it all in a final paper. I’m so excited but having a hard time choosing.  I’m considering human trafficking, sustainable enterprise
(artisan craft, fair trade), mental health and many more. Any suggestions or advice are welcome!!

I saw a couple of family friends this week (Christopher and Dale Davis and their sons Sam & Luke), with whom I grew up.  It was so good to see them, and it really made it feel like I was home. They have a lovely house in Maharaj Ganj that is covered in hanging vines and bougainvillea; their garden is filled with statues and wild ginger flowers. It was wonderful to relax and catch up. Sam and Luke are now 21 and 24 respectively and look very different from when we
were kids! It's been fun talking to them and I’m so thankful to have a home base outside of school here.

I hope you're all well, I love hearing from you!!! I promise to write as much as possible. Please send me addresses to write postcards to!

Tomorrow we leave for India, we're going to Darjeeling which is in the state of West Bengal. We'll take a short flight and then drive 4 hours by jeeps to get there.  I can't wait for cooler weather and great tea.

 Much love to you all!



Katie O’Connell’s (peer coordinator) Spring 2007 Exchange Semester in Paris:
I have just come back from a spring semester in Paris, France and it was truly an amazing experience.  I lived.  I learned.  I spoke quite a bit of mangled French.  I even loved a little!  (It’s Paris, could you blame me?)  But the best part of the experience was the people I was able to meet, the places I was able to see and the mistakes I was able to make.

One important thing I took away from my experience was not only a respect for a new culture, but an even greater respect for my own.  Many people criticize other cultures because they really just don’t know the roots, the real meaning. Americans criticize the French, calling them lazy, smelly or snobbish, and the French criticize Americans for being fat and obnoxious.  Who knows what’s true?  But I can tell you I understand more about how ridiculous such face-value observations really are, and how they can ruin much of the fun of the experience.

If I can offer any advice at all, first it would be to just go, and once you’re there do everything.  Take it all in.  You’ll make mistakes, and you’ll learn from them. You’ll grow and change and return a mix of the old and the new.  Hopefully, it will be only for the better.

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