Purdue expands learning horizons
By Griff Quirk
Photos provided by Jennifer Meade
Some Chinese dairy farms are similar to American dairy farms. The main difference is that the Chinese use silage bunkers and not silos. Chinese dairy cattle also have lower milk production.
The Great Wall of China was built nearly 22 centuries ago to defend the Chinese empire from tribes from the north.
Purdue University's study abroad program started small. In 1991, there was one student studying abroad each year. By the 2001-2002 school year, 118 students were overseas. "The program began with one school in Japan and has increased to 27 agriculture-specifc study abroad programs involving 25 institutions in 21 countries," said Michael Sitsworth, professor and associate director of Purdue's International Programs in Agriculture.
The program consists of Maymester, summer sessions and a new spring break course for students. What began in Japan has spread into Europe, Russia and Asia.
Last May, Jennifer Meade, a junior in general agriculture and pre-veterinary medicine, went to China. She, along with 19 other students and 4 instructors, visited Chinese feed companies, agricultural institutions, tea plantations, two dairy farms and a hog farm. They also visited the Great Wall, the Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden Palace.
"The purpose of our course was to see an overview of how China's agriculture is run and compare it to the United States," Meade said. During the previous spring, the group met five times preparing for China. Afterwards, each student gave a presentation and took a test. The three-week course earned each student 3 credit hours.
"The most exciting part was interacting with the people," Meade said. "It really opens your eyes to other cultures."
International Programs in Agriculture planned a trip during spring break 2003 to Honduras. This one-credit course gave students an opportunity to focus on tropical agriculture, study various academic endeavors and observe a different culture.
"We picked Honduras because we have a full summer internship program there, and we hope students' experiences there will get them interested in a longer course," Stitsworth said. The course is meant to be "an alternate spring bring experience."
The study abroad program encourages students to broaden their educational experience by traveling overseas. Nearly 15 percent of agriculture undergraduates have studied abroad. This is the largest percentage of Purdue's 10 schools.