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Taking Students Abroad

April 11, 2013

Trent’s Year Abroad Program in Thailand and the Mexico Exchange Program

Taking Students Abroad

A Showcase Magazine Feature: http://www.trentu.ca/showcase/

Currently teaching in the Indigenous Studies Ph.D. program at Trent, Dr. Don McCaskill teaches courses in social and cultural issues. An exciting aspect of his teaching includes his international work with students in their integrated year of study in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Courses in the Thai language, and Indigenous Cultures in Thailand, are among the educational opportunities available to students.

“Everything I’ve experienced in Thailand has helped me to grow,” says Stephanie Cruz, a Trent student in her first year of the Year Abroad Program. “I’ve been able to work with an international NGO (non-governmental organization) to help with wild elephant conservation, to see strong communities, rotational self-subsistence farming, and some of the best scenery.”

Checking in with Students in Thailand

Professor McCaskill travels twice per year to Thailand to conduct integrated seminars where students give presentations on their field placements. He oversees some significant moments as students present the results of their hands-on research in the field.

From January to April students are immersed in their field-study full-time. They go to Indigenous villages or work in NGO’s in all sorts of fields – environmental studies, orphanages, schools, economic development – they have placements all over Southeast Asia – also in Laos, China, Indonesia, and India.

Summers in the Mountains of Mexico

The Mexico exchange program offers further diversity for Prof. McCaskill’s teaching methodologies. He leads a summer course at the Universidad de la Tierra in Oaxaca, taking part in the North American Mobility Program and summer course for the past five years.

“In a combination of lectures and field trips to Indigenous communities in the mountains in Oaxaca, and working with Indigenous groups in the villages, students visit traditional groups and look at models for self-government and traditional healing,” explains Prof. McCaskill.

As part of the North America Mobility Program (NAMP) the exchange also partners Trent with the Univerisdad Tecnologica del Valle del Mezquital. As the lead school, Trent implements a federally sponsored program (NAMP), providing opportunities for students from Mexico, Canada and the U.S.

The founding director of the Indigenous Studies Ph.D. program at Trent University, Dr. McCaskill has taught in the department for forty years and was the chair for twelve. His ongoing commitment to Indigenous issues attests to the passion and enthusiasm of Trent’s long-standing interest and investment in Indigenous Studies on a global level.