Mike Scanlin (Founder)
The Chris Borton Memorial Scholarship Fund (CBMSF) is now in its tenth year and the addition of the current four recipients studying in Mexico, Spain, England and Italy brings the total number of UC San Diego students who have benefited from your generous contributions to 26. Their destinations for international study have included universities in China, Egypt, France, Germany, Ghana, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Senegal, Spain and the United Kingdom. This year we solved the problem of a virtual tie between two deserving candidates by opting to send both. Only later did we realize that in doing so we were celebrating the “Year of Study Abroad” as declared by the United States Congress.
The scholarships awarded annually by the CBMSF create opportunities for students to go abroad while also honoring the memory of Chris’ lifelong involvement with the international community. Our four students are among what the Institute of International Education estimates are some 190,000 American students studying abroad this year. While this is an admirable number, it is only 1% of all undergraduates. A recent study by IIEPassport.org and StudyAbroad.com revealed that a larger percentage wants to go, but students are scared away more by the potential cost than concerns about speaking the language or transferring academic credits. We are pleased to be able to help create opportunities for young people to experience cultural differences first hand and to view U.S. society from an international perspective. With the help of your generous contributions, we are able to play a small part in remedying what lawmakers have termed “a serious deficit in global competence in the United States.” We hope to help achieve a federal lawmakers’ goal of sending an additional 1 million American students to study in a foreign country in the next ten years, as stated in a resolution passed in November of 2005.
In her scholarship application, Halley Henscey wrote that her passions are language, art and human interaction and that she has a strong, visceral attraction to the Italian culture. We heard more about her aspirations when we met during the summer. At the Umbra Institute in Perugia, Italy, Halley is becoming fluent in Italian to the point where she will soon be taking classes at the Università per Stranieri, completely in Italian. She is gaining new understanding of her goals and place in the global community as an International Studies major, and most of all, having a marvelous time immersing herself in Italian culture. Between Halley’s descriptions of Etruscan arches, Tuscan vineyards and highlights of her trip to Prague, Amsterdam and London during fall break she has observed that “Having a functional computer does not contribute to my greater happiness” and “If you walk more slowly, you’ll feel better when you get where you’re going.” In early August, Ray, Verena and son Ben (himself a UCSB graduate participating in the EAP program in 1994-95 in the United Kingdom) spent a long and lively afternoon getting acquainted with Halley and her dad Michael.
Jennifer Kim’s major is Literatures in English; her goal is to obtain a credential to teach literature in a bilingual classroom, instilling in her students the love of literature that is so central to her life. As a youngster, Jennifer lived in Argentina—an experience that left a lasting impression on her in terms of her awareness of other cultures and her desire to become fluent in Spanish. She writes that, “The language is beautiful and I do want to perfect it.” To this end Jennifer spent the summer months working on her Spanish in Morelia, Mexico, living with a local family and learning about Mexican culture while teaching her hosts about her own background. In Morelia she missed Korean food, but as soon as she arrived in Granada, Spain she missed Mexican food! Life in Granada, surrounded by large numbers of international students, has made Jennifer aware of how insulated from world affairs she had tended to be prior to this experience. “One subject that keeps coming up and keeps me thinking is anti-Americanism. I never realized how strong and real it was until I got here. Listening to another’s perspective on the American lifestyle is rather startling and harsh at times.” Jennifer was happy to report that a German student said to her in Spanish: ”I don’t usually like Americans, but you’re different and I like you.”
Paul Suarez combines a major in Bioengineering with a minor in Spanish Literature and a love of music. During his year at the Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Paul hopes to achieve mastery in Spanish and gain a broader perspective—expecting to learn as much about himself as about the culture and customs of Spain. Becoming fluent in Spanish has been a dream of his as long as he can remember and he looks forward to finally being able to communicate with his relatives in El Salvador. Besides literature classes, Paul is taking a course on Religious Forces and International Society that involves discussions by a very “multinational” group of students. So as not to lose touch with his engineering field he is searching for an internship. Trips to Portugal and Bunol have provided a change of pace, as did visits to various museums in Madrid. Paul has noticed that there are as many people out in the streets at 4 a.m. as there are at 4 p.m. and comments that “you can’t throw something in any direction without hitting either a bar or a pharmacy.”
Sarah Zaides is a first generation Russian immigrant who is majoring in History with a particular focus on the study of Race, Ethnicity and Immigration. In order to study these issues in a global and comparative context, Sarah applied to and was accepted for a year at the Butler Institute for Study Abroad at Oxford University’s St. Catherine’s College. Sarah reports that she has “never, ever, worked this hard” in her life. Her tutorials are on Indian and Irish history, requiring two papers every week. There are no lectures. “Instead, my tutors assign a weekly reading list, usually about twelve texts, and I take off for the Bodleain (where Marx studied) to read the texts and write a paper.” On another subject: “The ritual here is very charming, although sometimes too patriarchal for my taste. The dining hall looks like something out of Harry Potter (not surprising since it was filmed here). We sit at long tables and are served 3 – course meals. The faculty sits at the head tables, and when they enter (wearing black robes, of course) we stand, wait for them to reach their seats, and then the master slams down a gavel and says a prayer in Latin!” While these studies also fit in well with Sarah’s minor, Literature, she is not likely to be able to indulge her pastimes of equestrian competition, surfing and snowboarding this year – but perhaps she will be able to find a piano somewhere (as Achim Lyon did in Beijing).
In May we celebrated the tenth anniversary of the founding of the scholarship program by organizing a short gathering at “The Land,” a folk dance deck in the Santa Cruz Mountains where Chris enjoyed many happy times amongst an internationally diverse group of musical friends. For this occasion we invited the scholarship recipients to write a short statement about how the experience of studying abroad has impacted them as seen from their current vantage point. These “Reflections” were reproduced and selections were read during the observance. Scholarship recipients Brian Israel (England, 2003-04) and Julia Carter (Egypt, 2002-03) were able to join us for the occasion and to comment in person on the way their year abroad has influenced their thinking. We have made the entire collection available, along with other updates and previous letters, on the CBMSF web site. Please contact us if you cannot access the Reflections online; we would be happy to send a hard copy. The collected impressions give us a very personal illustration of the value of making it possible for students to live, study and travel abroad.
Updates on other scholarship recipients: Last February we had a delightful surprise visit from Joanna Itoh, mother of Shige Itoh (Japan, 2000-01), who was attending a program on international education at UC Davis. In April we had dinner with Jenny Chang (UK, 1997-98) and her parents while she was on a short break from her PhD research in Seattle. The picture of Jenny at right is from that dinner. Julia Carter and Brian Israel gave wonderful examples of their study abroad experience at the commemorative gathering in May and Julia did some house sitting for Joan and Dolf later in the summer. In July we reconnected with Austin Leininger (Scotland, 1998-99) when he and his wife Jane moved to Davis. The happy couple is pictured to the left in Ray and Verena’s atrium. In late August, just before returning to UCSD, Jenna Carlsson (Senegal, 2005-06) regaled us with stories and visuals of her life in Senegal. The Reflections serve as updates on the lives of these and other past scholarship recipients.
Former scholarship recipient Achim Lyon (China, 2004-05) shared with us a poem called Dreams of Dr. Seuss. We will close with a verse from that poem that captures the spirit of the program:
I’ve heard there are places that you can go,
For those who reckon there are things to know,
They aren’t too close—but I wouldn’t say far,
You certainly can’t get there by bus or by car;
And when you’ve arrived at these places, I’m told,
Your journey has typically just begun to unfold.
Thanks to all of you that help us make new journeys possible,