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St. Bonaventure University will welcome 20 Latin American students to campus for five weeks this summer to expand their leadership abilities and deepen their understanding of U.S. history and culture.
This will mark St. Bonaventure’s fifth year participating in the Study of the United States Institute (SUSI) for Student Leaders in partnership with the Institute for Training and Development. The State Department selects students based on high academic performance and leadership potential.
The focus of the program, led by Department of History faculty Dr. Phillip Payne and Dr. Maddalena Marinari as the academic directors, is U.S. history and the evolution of U.S. society, culture and values. Melissa Yaworsky is the grant coordinator. Among them they plan and execute the programming and travels.
Participants from Colombia, Ecuador, and Venezuela will engage in presentations, discussions and reflections, as well as cultural enrichment activities and regular interaction with their American peers to stimulate their interest in the United States. This year’s program runs from July 12 through Aug. 15.
In addition to St. Bonaventure’s history department instructors, faculty from the university’s political science, arts, journalism, women’s studies and education programs will share their expertise for the curriculum.
According to Payne, one of the strengths of the program is the faculty.
“We always receive positive feedback on the quality of our academic sessions. The students also really enjoy our campus, which is lovely in the summer,” he said. The program staff continues to receive positive comments from program alumni on Facebook and email.
There is more to the program than academics. A highlight of the trip is the weekend the Latin American students spend with a local family. Host families also enjoy showing the visiting students around the area.
One of the program requirements is that the students travel to see different parts of the United States. To this end, beyond the academic programming, students will go on educational tours of other regions of the country — including Chicago, Buffalo, New York City, and Washington, D.C. And the students meet a wide range of local United States citizens during their site visits at places such as the Pfeiffer Nature Center, Chautauqua Institution, Mt. Irenaeus, and the Warming House.
A key to the success of the program is the quality of the student mentors, who live in residence with the SUSI participants in apartment-style housing on campus, acting as social and cultural ambassadors. Student mentors do everything from helping with academics and shopping to arranging social events. It is always a teary farewell when the Latin American students say goodbye to the mentors, Payne said.
Olean-area families who are interested in hosting one of the students during the weekend of July 25-27 should contact Melissa Yaworsky at firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
About the University: The nation’s first Franciscan university, St. Bonaventure University cultivates graduates who are confident and creative communicators, collaborative leaders and team members, and innovative problem solvers who are respectful of themselves, others, and the diverse world around them. We are establishing pathways to internships, graduate schools and careers in the context of our renowned liberal arts tradition. Our students are becoming extraordinary.
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