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Students study around the world during May Experience

Students traveled far and wide during MayX Study Away.

Last updated May 17, 2024

By Clinton Colmenares, Director of News and Media Strategy

With finals still fresh in their memories, 260 Furman University students packed their bags and went overseas for a MayX Study Away, or May Experience. You can see their photos on social media exploring Ecuadorian ecosystems, trekking the Canterbury Trails in England, or learning about, and eating, slow food in Italy.

Furman offered 12 international programs this year, and four study away experiences in the United States: Studying indigenous cultures and religion in the Southwest, the Math at the Mouse applied learning program at Disney World in Orlando, practicing the art of observation at museums in New York City, and taking in opera on Broadway. There are also MayX classes on campus for students who want to stay close to Greenville.

The faculty are looking for a way to make the world their classroom, and “the topics are varied and interesting enough that students are confident they’ll have a phenomenal experience,” said Nancy Georgiev, director of Study Away and International Education at Furman.

In a new MayX Study Away course this year, students flew to South Africa with Bronwen Forbay, associate professor of voice, and Brandon Inabinet, professor of communication studies, for “Narrative, Power and Reckoning.”

In one session, the students met with Leona Theron, the first person of color appointed as a judge to the Constitutional Court, the country’s highest court. Theron, who was childhood friends with Forbay, had recently heard arguments in a trial against former South African president Jacob Zuma.

Another course had students traveling to Charleston, South Carolina, to learn more about the Gullah Geechee people before flying to Belize to spend a week with the Garifuna with anthropologist Judith Williams and Chad Boltz from the Student Office for Accessibility Resources. While the Gullah Geechee descend from formerly enslaved people along the Atlantic coast, the Garifuna largely originated from the Caribbean and had to flee to Central America. Both groups carry on traditions important to their culture.

The students who went to Ecuador, with biologists Alison Roark and Srikripa Chandrasekaran, are exploring the Andes, the Amazon and the Galapagos. One program this year, Furman in the Holy Lands, adjusted from visiting Israel and Jordan to Egypt and Turkey after war broke out between Israel and Hamas.

The timing of MayX classes provide students an opportunity to travel outside of busy semesters, whether student organizations or a spot on a D1 Paladin team keeps them busy. But often it’s the amazing locations and access to experiences that interest students most.

It shows. In various social media posts, Charlie Smith ’25, a trumpet player and music major, got to visit Royal Albert Hall in London as part of the “War and Remembrance: WW I on the Western Front” course before his group went to France and Belgium. Anne Camille Kline ’26, a chemistry major, flies over the Ecuadorian mountainside on a giant swing. Pate Smith ’26 and Mary Boucher ’25, both English majors, stand atop a hill with English Professor Margaret Oakes, overlooking Siena, Italy.

Wherever they are, the students and faculty make learning look amazing. What finals?

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Clinton Colmenares
Director of News and Media Strategy