SARASOTA, Fla. (Nov. 17, 2017) A wave of green and gold washed over Tallahassee on Tuesday as more than 250 students from the USF System, including a group from USF Sarasota-Manatee, arrived to talk with legislators for a Day at the Capitol.
The annual effort, which came as lawmakers were gathering for committee meetings, enabled the students to meet face-to-face with legislators to press issues important to the university.
About 15 USFSM students joined the contingent, leaving Monday morning in two vans for the five-hour drive and returning Wednesday. High on their agenda was the restoration of state funds cut from the most recent budget and a request for funding for Programs of Strategic Emphasis as well as state money to support USFSM’s proposed science and research building.
“These are funds that mean a lot to our campus, to our students and to our STEM programs,” said USFSM sophomore John Long, 19.
Long was among several groups of students who together represented USFSM, USF St. Petersburg and USF in Tampa. The groups fanned out across the Capitol to meet with legislators. Altogether, they met some 30 lawmakers.
“I think it made a difference,” said Sami Araboghli, a junior, who, along with Long, attended last year’s Day at the Capitol as well. “By us coming to Tallahassee and putting a face to these issues, I think it made it more meaningful. Our local lawmakers saw not only what issues we were supporting but who it was that supported these issues.”
Araboghli met with state Sen. Greg Steube, R-Sarasota; Sen. Bill Galvano, R-Bradenton; and Senate President Joe Negron, R-Stuart. Long’s group met with Galvano and state Rep. Paul Renner, R-Palm Coast.
In addition to the meetings with legislators, the students toured the Capitol and saw both the Senate and House chambers. Students also attended an hour-long panel discussion with USF alumni, lobbyists and legislative staff.
Events highlight USFSM’s study abroad programs
International Education Week kicked off this week at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s rotunda.
Students, faculty and administrators answered questions, handed out literature and discussed their favorite travel destinations during three events sponsored by the Global Engagement Office, Global Society student club and the Global Studies Committee.
The events were part of a collective effort at college campuses nationwide this week to celebrate international educational opportunities.
USFSM’s events launched Tuesday with hospitality management students from Taiwan sharing space with Global Society students representing Mexico, Ecuador, England, Puerto Rico and Germany for the “World Showcase.”
The groups shared information about the appearance, culture and customs of their countries. The Taiwanese students drew a poster highlighting products unique to their country, such as bubble tea, and assembled several Taiwanese food items for display.
“One of the main characteristics of Taiwanese people is they are very hospitable to foreigners. They will welcome you with open arms,” student Kevin Tai said.
Across the rotunda, Regina Rodriguez, a Global Society student, talked about the warmth of the Mexican people, describing them as welcoming, family oriented and generally religious. Celebrations, including those honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, touch nearly every corner of Mexico.
The international theme continued Wednesday as students, faculty and others held a “Study Abroad Fair.”
For several hours, the groups fielded questions about the dozens of opportunities to earn credit next summer while studying in Merida, Mexico; Brussels, Belgium; Costa Rica and other countries where the USF System offers programs. Currently, programs are offered in 68 locations around the world.
Amela Malkic, director of the Global Engagement Office at USF Sarasota-Manatee, stressed the importance of study abroad.
“Study abroad experiences offer a number of benefits to our students,” she said. “Traveling and learning abroad enables students to immerse themselves in the host countries’ culture, to develop independence and develop long-lasting professional and personal networks; students also learn about global issues and expand their cross-cultural views and understanding.”
Interest in study abroad has grown steadily since the program launched three years ago. Malkic said scholarships can defer many of the costs, making the visits reasonably affordable, even to college students.
USFSM is promoting three trips: a two-week field research experience in Costa Rica where students will live as field biologists at two biological research stations; an 11-day business program to Brussels, Belgium, where they’ll tour the capital of the European Union; and a five-week study abroad visit to Merida, Mexico, described as a true “cultural immersion” program.
Students in this program will stay in homes with Mexican families, take classes in the morning and explore the city of Merida in the afternoons. On weekends, they’ll tour Mayan ruins, a working hacienda and an elaborate cave system, among other places, while at night enjoy fiestas in the old town square.
“I’ve never been to a city that has more outdoor activities,” said Spanish instructor Mike Fehily, one of two faculty leaders. “We offer classes four days a week as well as a variety of cultural excursions for students.”
For the Brussels trip, students will learn the inner-workings of the European Union, visit a chocolate factory among other businesses, and hear from international financiers about their profession.
“It’s important to learn about the European Union because it’s such a significant part of the world’s economy,” USFSM finance instructor Thomas Pencek said. “I also want the students to gain an appreciation for international business.”
To learn more about these and other study abroad opportunities, visit usfsm.edu/global-engagement-office.
The International Education Week ended with a faculty information session on Wednesday. The session was held to answer questions from faculty about leading a study abroad trip.
Dr. Davis-Cotton brings PAInT message to teachers, supervisors statewide
Dr. Denise Davis-Cotton, coordinator of the Florida Center for Partnerships for Arts-Integrated Teaching (PAInT), was the featured speaker at a Nov. 14 webinar for school district arts supervisors statewide.
The webinar, sponsored by the Florida Department of Education, was meant to assist teachers as they help students evolve in arts and non-arts content. Dr. Davis-Cotton discussed arts-integrated teaching strategies and provided resources to support evidence-based best practices for use in Florida classrooms.
“As teachers establish creative learning environments through arts-integrated teaching, learning for students is more comprehensible, memorable and often more relevant,” she said.
Webinar participants reflected on the importance of creative learning environments for students. Throughout the presentation, they received researched-based examples and models of practical applications of arts-integrated teaching.
Arts integration strengthens quality, inquiry-based and project-based instruction, she said. By using the Florida Next Generation Sunshine Standards, the Center for PAInT, which is based at USF Sarasota-Manatee, helps arts organizations, schools and school districts develop course syllabi to help students deepen their knowledge and develop an understanding of equal content in arts and non-arts subjects.
Earlier, on Nov. 10, Dr. Davis-Cotton facilitated a training session for Manatee County School District civics teachers. Entitled, “Civics Day: Arts-Integrated Teaching,” her presentation featured applications and strategies to help educate “our next generation of leaders.”
Dr. Davis-Cotton believes that the tools and resources she provided will deepen students’ understanding of how government works. Through the arts, teachers can encourage students to examine the role of citizens in society and prepare them to become active in civic life and make reasoned judgements on public policy.
She also discussed the relationship between arts integration and cultural competence to address student learning differences. By applying arts integration, the teachers were guided to resources to help them effectively teach in classrooms where students vary culturally, linguistically and generationally.