Student designs new Maymester trip to Trinidad

Courtesy of Isabella Boland
Petit Valley, Diego Martin, Port-of-Spain, Trinidad is one of the locations Boland visited while planning out the study abroad Maymester.

Gabriella DiPietro | Staff Writer

11/30/17

Duquesne University offers a plethora of opportunities for students interested in studying abroad, with programs lasting as short as 10 days or as long as five months in locations all around the world. One of these study abroad options is known as a Maymester, where students take classes for four weeks at the end of the spring semester in various locations around the world like Rome, Tanzania, Ghana and, now, Trinidad.

The idea for the Trinidad Maymester came from Isabella Boland, a senior elementary education major, after being inspired by her experience during a Tanzania Maymester at the end of her freshman year. At that time, the School of Education had very limited options regarding studying abroad, prompting Boland to work to create a new opportunity for Education students.

Through talking with numerous professors and conducting some research, Boland decided on Trinidad as the location for her proposed Maymester.

“I chose Trinidad because of its Spiritan ties and our pre-existing relationship to educators in the nation,” Boland said. “Once I chose Trinidad, I created a syllabus, suggested site visits, excursions and a budget, and I took it to my now-mentor, and native Trinidadian, Launcelot Brown.”

After receiving approval from Brown, Boland collaborated with Brown and Anne Marie Fitzgerald, an assistant professor in the School of Education that will be teaching one of the planned courses in May. The three of them also worked closely with the Honors College, the Office of International Programs, the School of Education, the University of Trinidad and Tobago and Brown’s contacts in Trinidad.

Together, Boland, Brown and Fitzgerald traveled to Trinidad and developed the Maymester this past June, where the first group of 25 Education students will take courses this coming May 2018.

Students who are going on the trip will take two courses, earning them six credits. All participating students will take an African Studies course called The Musics of Africa and the African Diaspora. Students will then have the option to take one of two other offered courses, which are Social Justice in Educational Settings and Global Societies and Education.

Most of the Maymester will take place in Port-of-Spain, the capital of Trinidad, where students will be taking classes at the University of Trinidad and Tobago and working with Trinidadian students in local schools. However, students will also be able to travel throughout Trinidad and Tobago, offering a chance that Boland considers to be invaluable.

“This is an opportunity unparalleled for Education students. In this day and age, exposure to global perspectives is crucial for an educator,” Boland said. “This is a chance for students to better equip themselves for their futures and to continue their education, while getting to travel to a beautiful country.”

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