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international

After two days of travel, the Southern choir still managed to muster enough steam to attend the first of three scheduled rehearsals upon arrival in Athens on Monday night.

The trip began with a flight from New York to Zurich, Switzerland. Due to a heavy blanket of fog, we sat in the Zurich airport drinking $7.50 cups of coffee. Our arrival in Athens was a bit behind schedule. But the greeting from our tour guides, Alex and Tassos, and the transfer to the hotel, could not have been smoother.

Images from Athens, Greece, including the lobby of the Titania Hotel.

We arrived in two state-of-the-art motor coaches, where porters unloaded our luggage. On the way Alex gave us a brief descriptive tour of the area. Our hotel, the Titania, is in the heart of the city, among parliament buildings, museums, foreign embassies, and ministries. Even in the dark it was still easy to admire the neoclassical style of the buildings.

Although Athens is considered the cradle of western civilization, today it is a thoroughly modern city. In 2014, Athens had an estimated population of 3.75 million in the metropolitan area.. There is even an IKEA!

Tuesday: a visit to the Corinth Canal, more rehearsal, and dinner at a rooftop restaurant with views of the Acropolis.

Pictured above: The Titania hotel lobby and surrounding neighborhood.

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Southern’s globe-trotting University Choir, led by Director Terese Gemme, travels to Greece this Sunday, thanks to the vision and support of Walter Stutzman and the Stutzman Foundation.

The choir has previously traveled to Ireland, England, and Spain, working with internationally-known guest conductors such as Simon Carrington and Craig Hella Johnson. This year’s 53-strong choir will be made up of current students, SCSU alumni, and longtime community members, and will once again be working with Simon Carrington. Also traveling with the group through Jan. 4 will be students from the Honors College class “The History of Athens.”

By arrangement with host company KIconcerts, our choir will be performing in several venues around Athens, including, by special invitation from the city, a Gala New Year’s concert at Syntagma Square. On Jan. 2, the choir will perform as part of a special holiday program at the Piraeus Municipal Hall, a classic architectural gem.

In addition to a busy rehearsal and concert schedule in Athens, the choir will travel to the islands of Hydra and Aegina, Delphi, and Corinth. This exciting trip will once again enhance the students’ musical education and global awareness, while providing them with a life-changing experience.

“Being able to perform great music with new friends from around the world in historic venues is awe-inspiring, and these trips, with their combination of musical inspiration, cultural exploration, personal discovery, and community-building experiences have been life-changing events for everyone,’ Terese Gemme said. “As an educator and as a musician, I can’t think of any more worthwhile endeavor.”

And KIconcerts President Oliver Scofield added: “SCSU is a choir that does more than sing for the sake of singing; through performance SCSU engages its students with the larger world as ambassadors of peace, bridges between cultures and custodians of better futures for humanity.”

In spring 2016, the first group of students will cross the Atlantic to study abroad under a new agreement formalized Dec. 3 by Southern and Liverpool John Moores University.

This “Trans-Atlantic Alliance” will offer students the chance to take classes in both New Haven and Liverpool, England, as well as benefit from dual-taught undergraduate and graduate-level programs, delivered by LJMU and SCSU faculty members through video link and guest lectures.

SCSU President Mary Papazian and Edward Harcourt, LJMU’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for External Engagement, formally signed the agreement in the foyer of Southern’s new science building.

“(LJMU) is an institution very much like ours,” Papazian told the New Haven Register. “This allows us to look at problems around sustainability, public health, health care management, business, creative writing from a variety of perspectives.”

Papazian predicted the partnership would be “a robust exchange, so many of our students have that chance to have that global experience.”

“It’s a great place, a safe place for our students to experience the world,” she said of the historic port city, home to the Beatles, the Cunard steamship line and Liverpool F.C., one of the world’s most well-known professional soccer clubs.

LJMU traces its roots back nearly 200 years to 1823 and the opening of the Liverpool Mechanics’ Institute. Over the decades, the institute merged with other institutions to become Liverpool Polytechnic; traditionally providing training, education and research to the maritime industry, before earning university status in 1992. Now ranked among the top 400 universities world-wide, LJMU offers 250 degree courses to 25,000 students drawn from more than 100 countries.

This spring, four SCSU undergraduates with academic interests in business, wellness, geography and global health will be leaving for Liverpool to study abroad for a semester. They include senior Shayne O’Brien (pictured with President Papazian and Pro-Vice-Chancellor Harcourt), who plans a career as a glaciologist. Additionally, Mark McRiley, a graduate student from public health, also will be attending LJMU in 2016 to earn his Ph.D. on full scholarship. Several students from LJMU are also expected to be attending Southern.

Liverpool John Moores University visit

Harcourt told the Register that the Alliance was a “game-changer for both institutions.

“We’re very similar, very connected to our local regions,” he said. “What we looked for is aligning comparable interests and strengths.”

Liverpool also has smaller-scale partnerships with colleges in China and Malaysia, Harcourt said, but with Southern, “the big prize longer-term is, could we get to the point where we’re presenting a joint prospectus of master’s programs,” which would be unique and enticing to students in overseas markets.

On the home front, several academic departments have hosted classes or colleagues from Liverpool via videoconference or in person. In November, the nursing departments from the respective institutions participated in a symposium in which Assistant Professor Christine Denhup presented her research on parental bereavement following the death of a child, an area of mutual interest for both groups.

In late November, John Morrissey, senior lecturer in environmental geography, natural sciences and psychology at LJMU, spoke about “Enabling Sustainability Transitions in the Coastal Zone,” during Southern’s Department of Environment, Geography and Marine Sciences’ Geography Awareness Week.

And in October, the visit of former Major League Baseball Commissioner Fay Vincent for the Dr. Joseph Panza Sport Management Lecture was broadcast live to LJMU so that sport management students there could participate and ask questions of the speaker.

More collaborations are forthcoming. During the most recent visit of the LJMU delegation, Tim Nichol, dean of the Liverpool Business School, met with SCSU School of Business colleagues (below) to discuss a wide range of potential initiatives. These include collaborative research and teaching, an MBA program in comparative healthcare offered by both institutions and a shared DBA that could be offered internationally.

Liverpool John Moores University visit

James Tait, professor of science education and environmental studies, is proposing a doctoral research project examining evidence of prehistoric hurricanes in the marshes of Hammonasset Beach State Park in Madison, Conn., with a goal of plotting how the intensity of these storms have changed over thousands of years.

Tait has done extensive work researching and proposing solutions to beach erosion along Connecticut’s Long Island Sound shoreline in the wake of recent hurricanes. With SCSU geography colleague Elyse Zavar and faculty from LJMU, Tait recently visited Formby Point, home of the United Kingdom’s largest collection of sand dunes, an area that faces similar issues in the wake of violent storms.