Nellie Trowbridge tells her high school art-appreciation class in Webb City, Missouri, that she grew up in Granby, a town of 2,000 people, yet she’s traveled abroad several times, and “You can do it too.” Trowbridge, who graduated from Missouri Southern State University in December 2005, took her first foreign trip as part of the college’s international program—to Italy between her freshman and sophomore years.
The ability to describe the artwork she saw in Rome and on a later university trip to London and Sweden “made my students think I was a lot older than I am. Without my having been there, they could have easily seen through me,” she said with a smile. Instead, she was able to tell them how she felt when she walked into the Sistine Chapel; saw an El Greco exhibit in London; or worked on drawings and photography in Mullsjo, Sweden.
She also teaches primary school stdents and says, “I’ll incorporate my travels into my elementary lessons eventually. However, with kindergarten they don’t have a huge concept of time and distance, so it’s harder to illustrate these ideas with them. I fully incorporate the ‘you can do it, too’ attitude at the high school, especially when I show pictures of castles or cathedrals or other places that I’ve been.”
Students and Faculty Abroad
Trowbridge’s reaction and that of other students who have traveled to Mexico, China, Russia, Costa Rica and other countries is exactly what the people who put Missouri Southern’s international program together more than a decade ago had hoped for. The international mission of this 5,500-student university “started to develop when the Berlin Wall came down, the Soviet Union was disintegrating, and it was quite clear that globalization was going to accelerate,” said university president Julio Leon. In the 10 years since the Missouri Southern program began, it has expanded—in the numbers of students and faculty participating and in places to go for foreign study.
Kay Mills is a former editorial writer for the Los Angeles Times and author of five books, including Something Better for My Children: The History and People of Head Start. She has been a Ferris Professor at Princeton University and taught journalism courses at the University of Southern California, the University of
Minnesota, and George Mason University.