Around the world in 14 days

Over the winter break, George Mason University’s Global Education Office (GEO) sent 343 students studying in 28 different countries. 

Overall, the program offers 200 programs in more than 60 countries throughout the year. Many of these programs are offered between semesters, both in the summer and the winter. Students who return from these trips report increased confidence, both professionally and personally, and an increased willingness to leave their comfort zone. 

“Studying abroad has become an integral part of a Mason education,” said Brian Gibson, the executive director of GEO who recently returned from leading a group to Tanzania. “We have a growing number of exchange partnerships on every continent—except Antarctica—where students are able to pursue their studies in nearly every discipline offered here on our Virginia campuses.”

Here are a few of the trip highlights from winter break 2019-20.

Clean Water in Ecuador

Students in George Mason University’s Engineers for International Development organization took their annual service project trip. Students helped install a clean water system in San Pablo de Amali, Ecuador. In the past, the group has conducted projects in Nicaragua, Honduras, the Peruvian Andes and the Amazon, addressing concerns over water shortages, clean water access, sanitation and hygiene.

Where is the Schar School Hat? 

The official hat of the Schar School of Policy and Government has traveled around the world. Those following the @ScharSchool Twitter page have seen it in China and throughout Europe, among other places. Over the break, the hat was spotted on the head of Professor Ellen Laipson, as she wore it on a trip with students to the Quetzalcoatl Pyramid in Teotihuacan, Mexico. 

Living Ethnography in Ireland

Mason professor and folklorist Debra Lattanzi Shutika led a group of students to Achill Island in Ireland to study Irish culture and folklore, including traditional language, dances, and history. Students also documented Irish cultural traditions through observation and in-depth interviews with musicians, storytellers and craftspeople. 

Three Countries in Two Weeks

Faculty member Andrew Novak in the Department of Criminology, Law and Society led a class to Austria, Germany and Hungary to study post-World War II justice and restitution in Central Europe. The group toured castles, historical sites, and cultural centers, and they spent their final day before returning to the United States at the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). 

HIV/AIDS Prevention and Care in Botswana

The Global Education Office led a multidisciplinary group of students, including five nursing students, to Botswana. Starting in the capital, Gaborone, students saw firsthand how health interventions specific to HIV prevention are carried out in local communities. Students visited clinics, NGOs, hospitals, schools and health posts where they spoke with community leaders and professionals.