Professors Go to Thailand
St. Mary’s University professors Patricia Owen, Ph.D., and Alejandro Velez,
will attend the “Thailand-Burma Fulbright-Hays Seminar in Thailand and
Burma 2002,” an intensive four-week study abroad program on Southeast Asian
experiential learning, June 9 through July 13.
Sixteen faculty members, representing 10 different minority serving
the nation, successfully competed for the Fulbright summer program,
sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education and the Freeman Foundation in
New York. The educators are to incorporate the knowledge they gain from the
foreign study program into their classroom teaching.
“This is study aboard opportunity will provide me with the tools to teach
students about a remote part of the world and help them envision and make
connections to cultures that on surface appear very different from their
own,” said Owen, chair of the Department of Psychology and a licensed
clinical psychologist. She teaches courses in developmental psychology,
abnormal psychology and human sexuality.
Velez, professor of economics and coordinator of Latin American Studies,
teaches courses in international economics and business.
“Internationalization is a major part of the University’s mission and our
students need to have a global view,” said Velez, who was a Fulbright Scholar
to his native Colombia in 1999 and to China in 1995. “The Asian region is
especially unfamiliar for most students and having returning faculty with a
stronger Asian focus will benefit student understanding and awareness of
the region,” he said.
Founded by French brothers and priests of the Society of Mary in 1852, St.
Mary’s is a federally designated independent Hispanic Serving Institution
that has a diverse student body of 4,100, including an undergraduate
enrollment that is 65 percent Hispanic and 58 percent female.
Study or travel opportunities beyond the Western Hemisphere are limited.
“Having been born in a developing country, Colombia, I have had a life-long
fascination with them,” Velez said. “I am always trying to light up an
interest in my students, and having the opportunity to gain new knowledge
about Thailand and Burma will add breath and depth to my teaching,” he said.
Owen will be making her first visit to Thailand, although she has visited
Southeast Asia as a tourist a number of times, including vacations in
Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia, Mongolia, Ladakh, Borneo and Burma.
Thailand, known as Siam until 1939, is a constitutional monarchy and
borders Burma, Cambodia, Laos and Malaysia. Burma (Myanmar), which borders
the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal, between Bangladesh and Thailand, is
governed by a military junta.
The Center for Southeast Asian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa
administers the Seminar in Thailand and Burma. For the first leg of the
trip, program participants will travel to Hawaii for orientation on campus
June 10-14. Then they will leave from Honolulu, arriving in Thailand on
June 16, with departure from Bangkok and arrival in Burma on June 30. The
group is to depart Rangoon for the U.S on July 13.