Study Abroad Stories
For two young alumnae, learning abroad didn't end after graduation. Amanda Fletcher, '03, and Amanda Beasley, '04, who have recently returned to the United States after spending a year working in New Zealand, can now call themselves true global citizens.
Beasley said, "The decision to leave the U.S. and live somewhere else for a year was life-changing, amazing and probably the best thing I've ever done for myself besides deciding to go to Meredith."
Their adventure abroad has its roots in Meredith's Study Abroad Program. The two met and became friends while on the Meredith Abroad summer program in Italy, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.
"I have always [known] that I enjoy traveling and learning about other cultures but participating in Meredith Abroad…turned that notion into an all-consuming desire," Fletcher said.
They chose New Zealand because English is the country's main language but it was still a place with which they were unfamiliar. They lived in Auckland and Christchurch in order to experience life on New Zealand's North and South islands.
"The North Island is much more heavily populated and has more of an Asian and [native] Maori presence while the South Island tends to be more rural and Anglo based," said Beasley.
Both felt that working for a temporary agency allowed them to have a wide range of experiences, meet a variety of coworkers and provided a flexible schedule for travel.
Temporary assignments "gave me a great opportunity to work in some specifically New Zealand companies including helping with tallying the ballots for the Auckland city elections," Beasley said.
Fletcher said her Meredith experience prepared her well for her travels.
"My professors at Meredith did an excellent job of encouraging [the belief] that women can do anything they set their minds to," Fletcher said "After four years of such empowering teachings, it only seemed logical to me to test it out [by living abroad]."
Both alumnae encourage Meredith students to follow in their footsteps abroad.
"Spending a significant amount of time in another country is the best thing a person could possibly do for herself," Fletcher said. "It will make one's view of the world, ideas of home, and perspective of self new and more accurate."
Allison Shivar,'03 Super Note
By Melyssa Allen
Following her heart and her faith have led Allison Shivar, '03, from Meredith to the African nation of Zambia.
After a Christmas break visit to South Africa during her sophomore year at Meredith, Shivar felt pulled to Africa, though she was unsure when, how or to where she would return. A routine walk across Meredith's campus brought her the answer.
"I bent down to pick up a piece of trash to throw away. It was a flier for a medical program with a first-ever trip to South Africa," recalls Shivar, who holds a Bachelor of Science in biology. She was accepted and Meredith helped her pay for the trip, during which she spent four weeks working in hospitals and clinics.
"I knew for sure after this experience that working in clinics and with AIDS orphans in a third-world area was my calling," she says.
To achieve her goals, Shivar has created an organization called H.O.P.E. Across Africa, which stands for "Helping Other People through Education," with plans for a community center, orphanage, medical clinic, school and AIDS education program.
Her effort has its roots in Shivar's attending Meredith's LeaderShape Institute. H.O.P.E. Across Africa was the vision project she created during this leadership training experience.
"I'm thankful for the education, the leadership opportunities and the professors and staff members who intentionally chose to build me up with each interaction," Shivar says of her time at Meredith.
Since her initial visits to South Africa, Shivar met her fiance and has determined that the place for H.O.P.E. is in his home country of Zambia. Their first focus is building the community center, which will include athletic fields, a pool, dance studio and library.
"With a vision like this it is one step at a time," Shivar says. "This organization is not about me, it is about God using me and allowing me to help others who are in need…it's about using my gifts and talents for the benefit and building up of others."
Three students participating in a Meredith College study abroad program in London met Queen Elizabeth II on Tuesday, July 6, following the dedication of a memorial fountain for Princess Diana.
Meredith seniors Sarah Margaret Tulloss, Paige Walston and Kelly Jones attended the dedication ceremony, along with others from the College.
"We left to go to the Princess Diana Memorial at 7 a.m.," said Jones, a human communication major from Wilson, N.C. "We got the front row around the gate and had a very good view."
The three decided to remain at the memorial following the dedication. "At first we didn't believe the Queen would make her rounds in front of the public because after she opened the memorial she went inside the building," Jones said.
When the Queen and Prince Phillip returned to greet the crowd following a private reception, the students made the most of this chance encounter.
"I knew that you were not supposed to speak to the Queen unless spoken to, but I realized that I should not let this opportunity pass," said Tulloss, an international studies major from Rocky Mount, N.C. "Therefore I tried to say as politely and convincingly as I could, with the Queen looking directly in my eyes, ‘Lovely speech ma'am'."
During the short conversation that followed, the Queen asked the students about their visit, about where they were from, and how long they would be in London.
Jones said Queen Elizabeth was "more interested in us than I thought the Queen of England would be."
Walston, a political science major from Wilson, N.C., summed up the experience by saying, "We were hoping to meet Prince William, but meeting the Queen was spectacular. We never thought in a million years the Queen of England would stop to chat with a couple of North Carolinians!"
Study Abroad Director Betty Webb said this is the first time in the 30-plus year history of the Meredith Abroad program that students have met with a member of the royal family."First we were mentioned in a Tom Stoppard play in the West End, then we were in the Economist Magazine, in the background of a photo of Tony Blair," Webb said. "Now we were in conversation with the Queen."