Study Abroad in China: Jennifer Berg '06
Release date: November 21, 2006
A trip to explore China’s history and current social and political conditions is one of the newest additions to Goucher’s intensive courses abroad, a program under the auspices of the Office of International Studies. China: Past, Present, and Future is a three-week studyabroad course led by Dr. Steve DeCaroli, of the Department of Philosophy, and Dr. Antje Rauwerda, of the Department of English. Goucher II student Jennifer Berg ’06 participated in the first trip to China in May/June 2005 with 10 traditional Goucher undergraduates.
Preparation for the trip included a seven-week course, “Ancient Asian Thought,” taught during the spring semester by DeCaroli and Rauwerda. Despite their different backgrounds and ages, the group of 11 students quickly became friends as they journeyed with their faculty advisers through the cities and countryside of China, taking in ancient sites, the dramatic landscape, and visits to the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square.
Because she was busy juggling three or four courses each semester, a part-time job, and her family, studying abroad was not on Jennifer’s agenda. She initially brushed off the suggestion of a trip to China, declaring study abroad all but impossible for her. But during a conversation about international study with DeCaroli, the professor responded with a challenge, asking, “Why not?” Indeed, “Why not?,” Jennifer mused. She started planning for a trip that would take her out of the United States for the first time since a trip to Paris when she was 25 years old.
Jennifer experienced some pre-trip anxiety about traveling with younger students and leaving her husband and three children for three weeks. Once she made up her mind, though, she enlisted the help of friends and family. With their support, she was ready to depart for Shanghai—the first stop on the group’s itinerary, where Chinese capitalism was first introduced and has flourished.
Each student was expected to keep a journal throughout the trip. Jennifer welcomed the opportunity to record her experiences and described the journal as a “gift” that enabled her not only to chronicle her travels, but also to record her personal thoughts inspired by the entire experience.
She credits the trip for revealing new possibilities and prospects for personal growth, which she found invigorating and exciting. Reflecting on her background and her status as the first member of her family to attend college, Jennifer marveled at the chance to travel to China and experience a culture that was unlike anything she had ever encountered. The trip had a profound influence on her view of herself and the world around her. Reflecting on the trip, Jennifer believes she returned as a changed person with a passion to make a difference.
Study Abroad in China: Jennifer Berg ’06 Jennifer Berg, second from left, in Tiananmen Square with the China: Past, Present, and Future class.Jennifer Berg, second from left, in Tiananmen Square with the China: Past, Present, and Future class.