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16 January 2024

The Gilman Scholarship and The Global Classroom in England

During the summer session of 2023, I travelled to the United Kingdom as part of a faculty-led study abroad program. The coursework covered medieval English history and literature through lecture and site visits. Out of the many historical locations we visited, I want to share my personal favorite. While we were in London, we took a trip to visit Canterbury cathedral, and it was stunning. The monolithic structure, one of many we saw, captured me with its majesty. In particular, the area around the altar with its spanning ceiling and columns was enough to stop me where I stood. Right there, I felt what it means to be a single part of the larger world, and it was an experience that will stay with me so long as I can recall it.
It was an amazing privilege and educational opportunity to go abroad, and it is something I cannot recommend enough. I feel that every student should see the world beyond their cultural boundaries, should they desire it. However, I know firsthand how difficult the process can be. Currently, I study non-traditionally both as an online student and as someone returned to college. Like many people, the Covid-19 shutdown presented challenges in obtaining my degree, so I postponed my studies, came home, and got a job. Of course, once I resumed my program, I still wanted to go abroad, but it became impractical to spend an entire semester away. With that in mind, I want to share my experience with a short-term faculty led program for other students like me.
First, a month is a reasonable time away if you have other obligations. I saved up enough for my share of the bills, groceries, and other necessities outside of what I needed during the trip easily enough. It was simple enough to put back a few hundred as opposed to over a thousand dollars compared to a semester abroad. Secondly, my leave of absence from work did not impact my job as much as it could have considering the time gone. Additionally, for those seeking to graduate earlier, programs like mine will allow you to earn additional credits. While this can be done with further distance courses, I found the change of pace enriching. My classroom environment has consisted of me sitting at my computer for several hours a day, and it feels like I am not part of a larger community at times. For this reason, the program was especially exciting because I experienced a real classroom setting for the first time in several years. I understand that it might be my last in-person coursework, and that makes it more fulfilling in a way. Lastly, the cost, while still high compared to other courses, is reasonable enough with sufficient support. I know that this is unique to each person, but with my grants, scholarships, and some additional loans I covered the trip without much issue.
One scholarship I highly recommend specifically for studying abroad is the Gilman scholarship. This award is a combined merit/need based scholarship that provides up to several thousand dollars, depending on the length of study, as well as giving you support abroad and after you return. The Gilman award covered over half of the total cost of my program, and I definitely suggest looking into it if you are considering any study abroad program.
English major Vernon Martin spent the summer 2023 term abroad with the U of A Faculty-led: Medieval England program with support from the Gilman Scholarship.

Learn more about the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship Program. Check out our Gilman Resources Page for more information and resources to apply for this scholarship!

20 December 2023

How the Gilman Scholarship Continues to Impact My Journey

Studying abroad in Paris, France, supported by the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, was a transformative experience that not only enriched my academic journey but also left an indelible mark on my personal and professional growth. As I navigate life after studying abroad, I see how the Gilman Scholarship continues to shape my life and influence my future goals.

One of the most significant lasting impacts of my study abroad experience in Paris is the heightened cultural awareness and open-mindedness it instilled in me. Living in a foreign country immersed me in a different way of life, and I learned to embrace diversity with an open heart. This perspective continues to influence how I interact with people from diverse backgrounds, personally and professionally. I have become more culturally sensitive, empathetic, and adaptable, which is crucial in our increasingly globalized world.

Living in France for an extended period improved my French language skills significantly. Today, I am proficient in French, and this linguistic ability has opened new opportunities for me. Whether forging connections with international colleagues or pursuing career opportunities that require bilingualism, the language skills I gained in Paris continue to be an asset in my professional life.

I now seek opportunities that allow me to work on international projects and collaborate with individuals worldwide. My time in Paris showed me the value of diverse perspectives and the importance of global thinking when tackling complex issues. This mindset guides my decision-making and career trajectory.

The international student community I became a part of during my study abroad experience in Paris has resulted in lifelong friendships and professional connections. These connections span the globe and have already played a significant role in my post-abroad life.

The Gilman Scholarship, which made my study abroad experience possible, remains an influential force in my life. It is a constant reminder of the importance of supporting underrepresented groups in international education. This scholarship has ignited a passion for global citizenship and cross-cultural understanding that continues to shape my involvement in various community and volunteer initiatives. I am deeply committed to promoting international education and fostering inclusivity, both in my personal life and as part of my professional endeavors.
International Business major Avery Besson spent the 2022-2023 academic year in Paris with ISA with support from the Gilman Scholarship. 

13 December 2023

Pursue Study Abroad with the Gilman Scholarship

Studying abroad is an adventure that has the power to transform lives, broaden horizons, and encourage personal and academic growth. My journey exploring Paris, France, supported by the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, has been eye-opening. As I reflect on my experiences, I am compelled to share my passion for international education and inspire others to consider pursuing their dreams with the help of the Gilman Scholarship. This scholarship not only opens doors for individuals but also empowers future generations to explore the world and embrace the benefits of global education.

The Gilman Scholarship provides financial assistance that can significantly alleviate the costs associated with international education. Many students might have never considered studying abroad in cities like Paris if not for the financial support offered by this scholarship. It's a powerful reminder that dreams can become a reality with the proper support.

Studying abroad is more than just attending classes in a foreign country; it's an opportunity to become culturally competent and globally aware. My experiences in Paris were invaluable, allowing me to develop a deeper understanding of different cultures, traditions, and ways of life. This cultural competence is a skill that is highly valued in today's interconnected world. It enables individuals to navigate diverse environments with ease, promoting empathy and effective communication.

As a Gilman Scholar, I had the privilege of connecting with like-minded individuals from various backgrounds. These connections transcend borders and last a lifetime. The scholarship emphasizes the importance of diversity and inclusion in international education, paving the way for a more interconnected and harmonious global society.

One of the most significant impacts of the Gilman Scholarship is its ability to inspire future generations. By sharing our stories and experiences, we can motivate others to pursue their dreams of studying abroad. When we show that it is possible to overcome financial barriers and embrace the world, we empower others to do the same. We become role models, igniting a passion for international education in our communities and inspiring the next generation of global citizens.

International education isn't just about personal growth; it's also about contributing to a better world. By studying abroad, we gain the knowledge and skills to tackle global challenges collaboratively. We become ambassadors of understanding and goodwill, bridging cultural divides and working towards a more peaceful and prosperous world. The Gilman Scholarship empowers us to be part of this positive change.
International Business major Avery Besson spent the 2022-2023 academic year in Paris with ISA with support from the Gilman Scholarship. 

06 December 2023

The Importance of Cross-Cultural Understanding Through the Gilman Scholarship

My journey of cultural exploration took me to Paris, France, where I discovered the profound significance of cross-cultural understanding through the support of the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship. This scholarship not only made my study abroad dreams a reality but also facilitated meaningful interactions with people from diverse backgrounds, emphasizing the vital role of cross-cultural understanding in our interconnected world.

Studying in Paris, often described as a cultural melting pot, exposed me to many perspectives, traditions, and lifestyles. The city's diverse population, coupled with the international student community at my host university, created a unique environment where cultural immersion was inevitable.

One of the most profound effects of my time abroad was the opportunity to challenge stereotypes and preconceived notions. Through genuine conversations and interactions, I learned that stereotypes often fall apart in the face of real, personal connections. The Gilman Scholarship encouraged me to engage with people whose backgrounds and beliefs differed vastly from mine. It was through these interactions that I realized the importance of looking beyond the surface and seeking to understand the complexities of everyone's story.

Cross-cultural understanding goes beyond merely recognizing differences; it involves empathizing with the challenges and triumphs of people from various backgrounds. My experiences in Paris allowed me to develop a deep empathy and compassion for individuals facing cultural and linguistic barriers. Whether assisting fellow international students in navigating the intricacies of French bureaucracy or sharing stories of our respective home countries, these moments of connection fostered a profound sense of solidarity and human connection.

The Gilman Scholarship, supporting underrepresented groups in international education, reinforced the importance of diversity and inclusion in our global community. It reminded me that a world without borders can truly thrive. My interactions with students from diverse backgrounds enriched my academic and personal growth, broadening my perspective on global issues and deepening my commitment to global citizenship.

As I reflect on my time in Paris and the invaluable experiences made possible by the Gilman Scholarship, I am reminded that cross-cultural understanding is not just a personal enrichment tool; it is a cornerstone of a more interconnected and peaceful world. By breaking down barriers, fostering empathy, and embracing diversity, we can bridge divides and work together to address the most pressing global challenges, from climate change to social inequality.

The Gilman Scholarship not only provided financial support for my study abroad journey but also ignited a passion for cross-cultural understanding and global cooperation. My time in Paris highlighted the importance of these values, emphasizing that we are all citizens of a shared world, and our differences should be celebrated, not feared. By embracing cross-cultural understanding, we can build bridges leading to a brighter, more inclusive, and harmonious global future.
International Business major Avery Besson spent the 2022-2023 academic year in Paris with ISA with support from the Gilman Scholarship. 

29 November 2023

How the Gilman Scholarship Made Studying Abroad Affordable

Studying abroad can be an incredibly enriching experience, but it's no secret that it can also be prohibitively expensive. From tuition fees to accommodation, flights, and daily expenses, the costs can add up quickly, making it seem out of reach for many students. I learned about the Gilman Scholarship, a government-sponsored program that aims to make international education accessible to students with limited financial means.

One of the most significant financial challenges of studying abroad is tuition fees. Universities in foreign countries often charge higher fees for international students. Paris, with its prestigious institutions, is no exception. With financial aid, the prospect of affording these fees was manageable. The Gilman Scholarship provides a generous grant that can be used to cover tuition expenses. This financial support eased my worries and allowed me to pursue my academic interests in Paris without the overwhelming burden of high tuition.

Accommodation is another considerable expense when studying abroad. Staying in student housing in a city like Paris can be exorbitant. The Gilman Scholarship recognizes this challenge and provides additional funding to cover housing costs. With this support, I could secure comfortable and safe accommodation in the heart of Paris, contributing to a positive and enriching study abroad experience.

Flights and travel expenses can also be a substantial financial burden. Many students, like myself, may live thousands of miles from their chosen study destination. The Gilman Scholarship offers a travel grant, which you can apply to cover your airfare fees.

Beyond the financial aspects, the Gilman Scholarship fosters inclusivity and diversity in international education. It recognizes that a diverse group of students should have the opportunity to study abroad, and it actively supports underrepresented groups. This aspect of the scholarship aligns with my belief in the importance of cross-cultural experiences and global perspectives. Studying in Paris, I had the chance to interact with students from around the world, broadening my horizons and enhancing my cultural sensitivity.

The financial support provided by the Gilman Scholarship not only made my study abroad experience more accessible but also allowed me to fully immerse myself in the cultural and academic opportunities that Paris had to offer. It alleviated the financial stress often accompanying studying abroad, enabling me to focus on my studies and explore the vibrant city with an open mind.

The Gilman Scholarship is a powerful tool that opens doors for students who dream of studying abroad but face financial barriers. It helped me overcome the daunting costs associated with studying in Paris, making my experience not only affordable but also transformative. Beyond financial aid, the scholarship promotes diversity and fosters a global perspective among students. Thanks to the Gilman Scholarship, I turned my dream of studying in Paris into a reality, and I encourage all aspiring international students to explore this invaluable opportunity.
International Business major Avery Besson spent the 2022-2023 academic year in Paris with ISA with support from the Gilman Scholarship. 

22 November 2023

Cultural Immersion Experience with the Gilman Scholarship

I'm so excited to share my adventures in Paris, France, where I spent ten months studying abroad. The Gilman Scholarship funds students from underrepresented backgrounds to study abroad. It encourages students to engage in cultural immersion activities beyond the classroom and enhance their understanding of the host culture. I wanted to interact with the locals, learn about their customs and values, and see how they live their daily lives.

While abroad, I took Advanced French and practiced the language in and out of class with native friends and family. I noticed a drastic change in my ability to speak and comprehend French. Being exposed to the language daily has encouraged me to read everything I see, whether it's on a building, billboard, restaurant, or metro sign. This program has allowed me to expand my cultural perspective of France through our excursions to different regions of the country. We went on tours with local guides in French to learn about history, culture, and traditions, which has broadened my global understanding. Taking tours in French enabled me to become more proficient in my listening skills. When I hear people speak, I can actively process and comprehend without translating the meaning in my head. Each week, I visited my great aunt Renée, a native French speaker, to practice speaking and listening. I learned to correctly use masculine and feminine words and proper pronunciation through her corrections. After one month, I have noticed an increase in my ability to speak French, but I am still far from perfect. I believe it is essential for me to stay for another semester, as becoming fluent in French will significantly increase my marketability in the European job market.

I immersed myself in French culture by exploring the city as much as possible. Paris is a vast and diverse city with many things to see and do. I visited famous landmarks like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre Museum, and the outside of the Notre Dame Cathedral. I also ventured into less-known areas like Belleville and Canal Saint-Martin. I discovered hidden gems like cozy cafes, charming bookstores, and colorful street art. I also enjoyed walking along the Seine River, riding the metro, and browsing the markets.

Exploring Paris taught me much about its history, politics, and society. I saw how Parisians celebrate national holidays like Armistice Day. I witnessed how they expressed their opinions and protested injustice. I also noticed how they embrace diversity and multiculturalism through cuisine, music, and fashion.

Through these experiences, I gained a deeper understanding of French culture and its similarities and differences with my own culture. I realized that culture is not static or monolithic but dynamic and complex. I also realized that cultural immersion is more than passive or superficial; it is active and meaningful. It requires curiosity, openness, and respect.

Studying abroad in Paris was one of the best decisions of my life. It was not only an academic opportunity but also a personal growth opportunity. It challenged me to step out of my comfort zone, broaden my horizons, and discover new aspects of myself. It also enriched me with unforgettable memories, valuable skills, and lifelong friendships. Applying for the Gilman Scholarship allowed me to take on this unique experience. I strongly recommend applying if you have received the Gilman scholarship in the past year or are currently receiving it.
International Business major Avery Besson spent the 2022-2023 academic year in Paris with ISA with support from the Gilman Scholarship.