Education Without Boundaries
Early in her first year at Goucher Ashley Daigle constantly asked herself, “Why am I going to a history class?”
She was very much against going to college after graduating high school. As a longtime dancer, Daigle says, “I really just wanted to dance and go to a conservatory and only take classes like anatomy and kinesiology.”
But her parents really stressed a liberal arts education, and she had graduated from a prep school where there was an interdisciplinary curriculum.
“I am very happy I made the choice to come to Goucher,” she says. “I like it now because it has opened my eyes to the field of communications, which will be my backup if something were to happen, such as an injury. I am also happy I came here because I have built up my dance résumé tremendously through doing residencies and working with outside, well-known artists since my freshman year.”
She does admit she was nervous about coming to Goucher because of the study-abroad requirement. Besides going to Canada to visit relatives, Daigle really hadn’t done any traveling. “I was never really willing to go out there. I wanted to do four years in America,” she says.
Then, last year, the head of the Dance Department approached her about a new semester-long dance program in Taiwan. She says she thought, “Oh, my Gosh. I’m not a traveler. Going to Asia is completely out of my comfort zone.”
Daigle and another student were chosen to go and participate in the program, and she realized it would be stupid to turn down the opportunity because the Taipei National University of the Arts is one of the strongest conservatories in Asia.
“So I just decided , ‘I’m gonna do it,’” she says. Her parents were completely freaked out and needed a lot of convincing, and up to the day she left, Daigle says she was terrified and sure she couldn’t handle it.
As it turns out, “It actually was life-changing,” she says. “I don’t think I ever would have visited Asia if I hadn’t come to Goucher. Now I want to go back. It was an amazing experience. I really do appreciate coming to Goucher because of that. I know if I went to any other school I wouldn’t even have thought about studying abroad, but here it’s a requirement.”
In Taiwan, all she did was dance, taking 12 separate dance classes. She couldn’t take any academic classes — they were all in Chinese, and she admits languages are not her strong suit. She has been surprise that it has been easier to transition to her academic classes at Goucher than it has been to re-enter her dance classes on campus. “It has just been easier to go back into a math class,” she says.
Dance definitely takes up most of Daigle’s time, between classes, rehearsals, and participating in student works. And she admits she does still prefer dance over other subjects. “I feel more motivated to get up and go to a dance class than to go sit still in a classroom,” she says.
But she has embraced the idea of a liberal arts curriculum and likes that her academic classes are small and that her teachers actually know her name, major, and interests.
“You know why all of your teachers are teaching their classes. They are passionate about their subjects, which helps me to learn. It’s so much easier, and they’re enjoyable classes,” she says.