The first DARA J. KAUFMAN Scholarship was awarded to a USM student in the Fall of 2007 and since then an additional 11 scholarships have been awarded to USM students studying all over the world. These amazing scholarships have made study abroad opportunities possible for students who otherwise might not have been able to afford them.
The recipients have shared some of their insights about their journey and a few photos below. Enjoy!
- Fall 2013: Nicole LaPlante, Universita delgi Studi della Tuscia, Italy
- Spring 2013: Mariah Callendar, Universitat de Autonoma Barcelona, Spain
Hilary Dion, University College Galway, Ireland
- Spring 2012: Scott Clavette, Keele University, England
- Fall 2011: Anne Hebson, Universidad de Salamanca, Spain
- Spring 2011: Brittany Michaud, University of Granada, Spain
- Fall 2010: Krista Jamison, Lorenzo di'Medici in Florence, Italy
- Spring 2010: Maria Burdick: University of Queensland, Australia
- Fall 2009 & Spring 2010: Andre Juarez: Beijing Language & Culture University, China
- Spring 2009: Sabrina Hammond, Yunnan University, China
- Spring 2008: Courtney Albin, Business Major, American University in Rome, Italy
- Fall 2007: Steven Carlock, History Major, University of Winchester in Winchester, England
Nicole Laplante: Universita degli Studi della Tuscia in Italy
My four months of studying abroad has been the best time of my life so far. I lived in a small, old, and truly authentic Italian town. A lot of people didn’t speak any English, so coming in without knowing any Italian was a difficult challenge for me. I slowly picked up bits of the language in my Italian class and just walking along the streets, and soon learned enough to order food, buy things at the store, or explain something to my landlord.
Luckily, most of the Italian students at my university were studying languages so I was able to speak English with them. I had a language partner whom I met with from time to time to help her English and she my Italian. I made lots of other Italian friends who I will continue to stay in touch with.
One of the most rewarding experinces I had while abroad was volunteering at a local elementary school. Each week I came into my class of rowdy 4th graders with a game or lesson I made to help them learn English. I was so surprised with how much they already knew, as well as how well they were able to pick up the new vocabulary or phrases I taught them. They made my desire to learn new languages and develop relationships with people from other countries so much stronger.
I was lucky enough to do some traveling both in and out of Italy while abroad. Within Italy, I went to the cities of Rome, Naples, Cinque Terre, Florence, Cortona, Pisa, Lucca, Siena, Pompeii, and Venice. Outside of Italy, I visited frineds studying in London and Copenhagen. I also went to Bacelona and Paris. I loved every new experience I had at all these cities. I am a more independent, culturally aware, accepting, and spontanious person since experiencing life in a different place. I cannot thank the Kaufman family and contributors to the scholarship enough for this amazing experience!
Mariah Callendar: Universitat de Autonoma Barcelona
I find it extremely hard to come up with the right words to describe my time abroad. Amazing, incredible, fascinating, and unbelievable is what I find myself using the most, but ultimately it was indescribable. That being said I will attempt to explain my experience abroad. In the spring of 2013 I studied abroad in the most beautiful city I’ve ever been to, Barcelona. I am a Business Administration major and was able to learn so much more about international business and marketing while I was abroad, but the experience itself is where I received the majority of the knowledge I came home with. When you study abroad everything becomes brand new to you again, it’s like learning how to walk for the first time and the satisfaction of being able to navigate around a new city where there is minimal English spoken is a huge success in itself. I take the most pride in the everyday experiences I faced and was able to overcome in the new city I called home.
While in Barcelona, I lived in an apartment with three other girls and lived very close to the dorms, where the rest of the students lived. I made some of the best friends I have ever had and continue to keep in touch with them. Being a business major and only studying Spanish in high school, it was all very new to me and at times hard to keep up, but I am a firm believer that there is no better way to learn a language than being placed in the middle of a city where it is spoken constantly. I learned an incredible amount of vocabulary and by the end of the semester I was able to hold full conversations in Spanish.
I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to study abroad, but it wouldn’t have been made possible without the Kaufman family and their generosity. I have always had to work very hard for everything I wanted and money hasn’t always come easy, so when I learned that I had received the scholarship I was in tears. Once I was in Europe I knew that I needed to take full advantage of this new adventure because I may never be back. In the short four months that I studied in Barcelona, I was able to travel to London, Paris, Florence, Dublin, the Canary Islands and Ibiza, which is a small Island off the coast of Spain. A friend who was also studying in Barcelona had informed me of the cheapest and most efficient ways to travel and I took full advantage. I was so fortunate to be able to see all of these different amazing places, but all in all Barcelona was my favorite place to be and I still consider it to be my home. Hopefully these photos can help paint a picture of my time abroad. I hope you can enjoy them as much as I do.
Hilary Dion: University College Galway, Ireland
Simple Mainer to Galway Gal:
Receiving this Kaufman scholarship completely changed my consideration of going abroad. Money for me was the biggest issue when embarking on this outrageously nerve-racking excursion. I was blessed to have this financial assistance to be able to experience such a life changing opportunity. I had never been on a plane let alone made any trips to Europe. Ireland was an easy choice for me because my boss of almost 7 years advised me to go, he said going would change my life, and it did. I decided to make this trip 100% for me. Therefore I took out a private loan, went on my own (without a group), and made it a point to make all the arrangements. Tasks such as finding a place to live, coming up with a budget, dealing with all the bills and responsibilities at home, and trying to still graduate early weighed heavy as my plane ride to another world came closer. I had the opportunity of building a new life for myself. I met my roommates when I got there and still remain close to them. I was able to travel to 10 countries while I was there, often “couch surfing” on natives stranger’s couches to save money and also absorb the culture as much as possible. I took five courses at the National University of Galway and focused on my studies because the classes and schooling there was quite different than here. I also joined the swim team in order to meet as many Irish students as possible. The beginning of my trip was probably the hardest. I was more homesick than I ever imagined and also forced to emerge myself into the culture quickly because I knew my time there would really fly by. I am fortunate to have received the positive experiences and memories while having been abroad and would advise anyone to grasp the opportunity if given the chance. I consider my self a stronger person for having taken that leap into the unknown world of Ireland. I also feel that see the world with a new set of eyes and am in fact planning a trip to go back soon. I thank the Kaufman family for the opportunity of a scholarship and aiding in my transformation from a simple Mainer to a cultural Galway Gal.
Kristina Jamison: Lorenzo di'Medeici in Italy
I am an Art Student at the University of Southern Maine and in the Fall of 2010 I studied abroad in Florence, Italy. I learned more about art, culture and myself then I could have ever imagined. I inst a ntly found myself intrigued and excited when landing in Florence. The city was already beautiful. I met some amazing people from all over the world and got to travel throughout Europe over the semester and tackled some of my main goals, like skiing in Switzerland and traveling to Germany for Oktoberfest, and that's just naming a few.
I found real comfort in the Italian culture and the county. I traveled throughout Italy and found the most magnificent views and sites I had ever seen, truly unexplainable. As an artist, I found so much inspiration from everything around me, that it made my classes inviting and refreshing. Some of my favorite experiences were drawing throughout the city of Florence, learning Italian, eating amazing Italian cuisine, discovering the European lifestyle and expanding my view on life as well as maturing as an individual.
Studying abroad has been the time of my life and has opened my eyes to the world. I'm already planning on going back. The scholarship helped me achieve many of my goals that I probably wouldn't have been able to do without it. I truly appreciate the help and support.
Andre Juarez: Beijing Language & Cultural University and Xian Intrnational Studies University in China
Wow! If I had to pick one word to describe my time in China it would be wow. There are just so many amazing things I saw and participated in that I don’t quite know where to start, so I guess the beginning is as good as any. I started my interest in China when I was a child. Like most kids, I found anything Chinese to be foreign and strange, yet really cool at the same time. Dragons, the Great Wall, Kung Fu, and of course, Chinese food (which isn’t really Chinese food at all). I entered USM in the fall of 2006 and took my first Chinese course with Professor Zhao in the fall of 2008. After that course I knew immediately what I wanted to study and do with my life. I applied to the Alliance for Global Education and was accepted into their Beijing and Xi’an programs.
My first semester was in the ever more modern, unbelievably large metropolis of Beijing. Describing the size to someone who has never been in a city of its magnitude is hard to do. There I started my Chinese language studies, and made really slow progress. The language was very hard for me to learn. While I was in Beijing, I lived in an international dorm and met tons of people from all over the world. My next stop was Xi’an, China for the spring semester. The best way to describe Xi’an for someone familiar with USM, would be to imagine a city like Portland…and now place 6 million people in it. Xi’an is a very crammed city with 6 million Chinese living a very traditional Chinese lifestyle. Most people have never come into contact with many foreigners, and knowing how to speak Chinese is crucial. My language level made great progress while in Xi’an. In Xi’an my coursework focused on the study of the Silk Road, and we took two excursions to ancient cities along the Silk Road. The first trip focused around Xiahe, the city where the 2008 Tibetan riots broke out in China. There I played basketball with Tibetan Monks 10,000 ft up in the mountains, and met a living Buddha. My next trip was to Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where we traveled to the ancient city of Kashgar, hiked sand dunes in the Taklamakan desert, and much more. Xinjiang is a wholly Muslim country where the population is made up primarily of Uighur Muslims. For this reason I was able to learn a great deal of Uighur language as well. As a Muslim myself I found this part of my trip to be particularly exciting and interesting. In Kashgar I was even able to pray in one of the oldest Mosques in the world. The best part about my Silk Road trip was that a film crew followed us on our journey in order to make a documentary! All in all my trip was the trip of a life time. I have done things and seen things I thought was never possible. I am the first person in my family to travel abroad, and I would not have been able to do that without the funds provided by the Kaufman scholarship. It truly made a huge difference. Furthermore, and most importantly, I have made friendships with kids from all around the world that will last a lifetime.
Sabrina Hammond: Yunnan University in China
This February I left the U.S. to study Mandarin Chinese at Yunnan University in China. This is something I had dreamed about for years, but until then had never really thought I'd be able to make it a reality. Although I had been accepted into the study abroad program, I wasn't sure where I was going to come up with the money. When I found out I was the recipient of the Kaufman scholarship, I finally knew I was going to China! Studying abroad impacted me in so many ways. I got to study what I am passionate about and use it on a daily basis. I learned to appreciate a culture with completely different values from my own, and I taught my international friends about American culture. Best of all, I made friends from not just China but all over the world who I will continue to stay in contact with. One of my favorite experiences was winning third place in my school's (the International Students College of Yunnan University) karaoke competition! I also loved going out to lunch with my teachers and classmates - which happened on numerous occasions. My Chinese teachers ordered popular, authentic dishes for the table which we all ate family-style. The thing I cherish the most, though, was meeting a young Chinese girl who became my best friend and later, my roommate. She showed me great kindness, caring, and respect, helped me when I was confused, and taught me how to cook real Chinese food!"
Courtney Albin: American University in Rome, Italy
I always worked while I went to school and took out a sizeable loan to pay for study study abroad, so the Kaufman Scholarship allowed me to have a source of money to be able to experience Europe while I was there. The faith showed in me by awarding the scholarship made me feel I would not be doing it justice if I didn't see and experience as much as I could while I was there. Travel was expensive with the low value of the dollar so to have the opportunity to travel made this the experience of a lifetime.
I had the opportunity to see and experience things that others never had the opportunity to do. My Art History class was an onsite class that allowed me to actually see Art that others here only see and read about in text books or on slides. History of Rome was my favorite class and I actually got to to to the site of the Chariot Races and the Ancient Roman ruins. Because I was there, I wanted to see where everything I read about had happened and actually feel the history and culture.
I was fortunate to have many amazing experiences. I traveled to Switzerland and despite having only been on skis three times in my life before, I went skiing down the Swiss Alps. Also, I went sky diving over the Alps. The inner strength I found I had and the sense of accomplishment were AMAZING. I also traveled to Barcelona, Spain the French Riviera (Cannes and Nice), Prague in the Czech Republic, Corfu and Athens Greece. Within Italy, I traveled to Vatican City, Carnivale in Venice, Florence, Caprii, Sorrento, Pompei, Assissi and sampled wine in Tuscany.