When students return from abroad, they usually pack a broad range of experiences. After a semester in Buenos Aires, Dana Russo '10 is packing a new sense of self.
While there, the creative writing major learned to communicate in a foreign country, learned to make her own travel plans, learned to be confident, learned the Tango -- and learned it all without the help of her parents." Being independent and learning new things is what study abroad is all about," she says.
Now, Russo is curating a creative arts contest and exhibition for Franklin & Marshall students with any international experiences. Co-sponsored by International Programs and the Philadelphia Alumni Writers House, the contest asks students to submit one or more creative pieces that respond to the theme of 'travel' in the form of poetry, prose or photography.
Russo devised the idea for the contest during her tenure as a Franklin & Marshall travel abroad ambassador, working under Assistant Dean for International and Off-Campus study Nicole Zeimis. As an ambassador, Russo promotes study abroad as a valuable component of a liberal arts education. "If we do our jobs well," Zeimis says, "students return to campus as different people." Russo definitely did, which is why she is so adamant about letting students, faculty and administration know about international study program options. "My job also allows me to independently construct, organize, and execute campus events to give off-campus study students an opportunity to share their experiences," she says. The International Creative Arts Contest promises to do just this.
Students may submit more than one piece and are encouraged to explore their experiences through different mediums, Russo explains. A panel of judges from the English Department (Professor Katie Ford, Professor Sands Hall and Professor Marci Nelligan) will review the submissions of poetry and prose, and a panel of judges from the Art Department (Professor Scott Wright and Professor Richard Kent) will review the submissions of photography. Three winners will be chosen: one in poetry, one in prose and one in photography. Each will be awarded $100 in travel vouchers from International Programs. Additionally, the Writers House will host a reading and exhibition night on February 18th at 7:30 PM, in which all participants of the contest are welcome to share and display their pieces. The submission due date is Thursday, January 28th.
"Im really excited for this contest because seeing and hearing student experiences offers an additional layer of information that can't be found in a fact pact, Russo says. Even so, study abroad can't help but retain a bit of its mystery and magic. Much like Russo says of learning the Tango: "It was something completely foreign to me...but I still had a great time doing it!"