In Andrew Sobiesuo's native country of Ghana, there are 32 different spoken languages. Not dialects. Languages.
"You grow up with the idea that in order to live and work in a community with people from different regions, you must speak a different language," says Sobiesuo, the College of Charleston's director of international education.
Sobiesuo went to college in Ghana, earned his master's in Spain and his Ph.D. from The Ohio State University on his way to becoming a Hispanic studies professor in Charleston. If there's somebody more qualified to run the Center for International Education, we'd like to meet him.
Sobiesuo says that the shining stars of the Center for International Education are its faculty-led semester and summer study abroad programs. College of Charleston students can participate in any accredited study abroad program, but these in-house offerings are particularly popular and it's not hard to understand why.
Imagine spending a summer studying biology in Peru or religious studies in India, being taught by a College of Charleston professor, going on amazing excursions and receiving full course credit! The College currently offers 18 summer trips and six full-semester programs in countries such as Cuba, China, Italy, Ireland and Morocco.
Celeste Lacroix is one of the leaders of the communication department's summer program in Austria, Germany and Italy.
"The primary goal of that program isn't language studies," explains Lacroix. "It's making connections between communication course material and the abroad experience." For Lacroix, who teaches the program's intercultural communication course, "the environment is our laboratory."
Theories of proxemics, for example the study of personal space during interactions– come to life in the streets of Germany and Italy. Germans dutifully maintain two to four feet of separation, while in Italy you're lucky to get two to four inches.
Lacroix also teaches at the semester-long program in Trujillo, Spain, where students live with local Spanish families. The full-immersion experience is nothing short of life-changing.
"We've had students who have flown their host parents from Trujillo to the U.S. when they got married," says Lacroix. "That isn't about the classroom. That's about living with other people from other cultures and developing close personal ties."
College of Charleston students who receive financial aid can apply their aid packages to approved study abroad trips. And to give students even more help, the College announced in September 2008 that it will set aside nearly $200,000 every academic year for special study abroad scholarships.
Start your journey today by learning more about study abroad at the College of Charleston.