SU’s world travelers

Posted: November 15, 2012

The Winchester Star

Shenandoah University students Lily Bowers (from left), Emily Proffitt, Michael Divino and Tricia Richardson react to hearing that they will be going to Ireland as part of the school’s Global Citizenship Project. About 300 SU students applied, with 55 chosen to go to five different countries on their spring break. (Photo by Ginger Perry/The Winchester Star)
Emily Ehrgott (left), a junior at SU, gets a hug from her roommate Emily Howdyshell, also a junior, just after Ehrgott learned she had been selected to go to Panama as part of the university’s Global Citizenship Project.

WINCHESTER — Shenandoah University freshman Seth Walker was told Wednesday that he will be spending his spring break in Bulgaria.

Excitement and speechlessness were soon replaced with the realization that he knew little of the country, which is nestled between Romania, Greece and Turkey in southeastern Europe.

“I know it’s in ‘Harry Potter,’” he said. “That’s the most embarrassing thing to say.”

On Wednesday, SU announced the names of the approximately 50 students, staff and faculty who will be traveling to some exotic countries for spring break, March 9-17, through the school’s Global Citizenship Project.

SU funds the program, which is offered annually to increase student and staff knowledge of other countries and cultures.

More than 300 applicants wrote essays to be selected to travel abroad. The winners were chosen by a committee made up of alumni from the program.

Although they already knew they had been picked, as of Wednesday students and staff still didn’t know where they were going.

Sophomore Lily Bowers has only traveled as far as Chicago and has never flown in her life. When she heard she was going to Ireland, she cried.

“I know it’s a beautiful country, and I love nature,” she said.

As a pianist, having distinguished artist and professor of piano John O’Conor serve as her group’s faculty member didn’t hurt.

O’Conor, who lives in Dublin and commutes to SU 10 times a year, said he will introduce the students to Irish brown bread, Killarney, politicians, the 9th century Book of Kells, the Cliffs of Moher, hospitals and the creators of River Dance.

“It’s a small country,” he said. “I know most people there.”

“I’ll tell them to bring an umbrella, that’s for sure,” he added.

Senior Mary Harshman has only traveled as far as Las Vegas and Canada, but she’ll be heading to Rwanda — located in central and eastern Africa — in March.

“I knew I was going to go to Rwanda and get eaten,” she said nervously of the country’s wild tigers. “I don’t know anything about it. All I know is that we’re going on a safari.”

Junior Michael Pellegrino will be traveling to Nepal in southern Asia.

“Really I don’t have much to go off of,” he said. “I’m excited. I don’t have as much knowledge, but I know I’ll learn so much.”

Students will also be traveling to Panama as part of the project.

The Global Citizen Project began during the 2004-05 school year with the help of a gift from Nancy Larrick Crosby, longtime friend and former trustee of the university. Since then, the project has sent 545 members of the university community to 47 destinations, with only two repeats.

There are typically 11 travelers in each group: one faculty leader (with destination expertise), one faculty member (as a participant), one staff member, four graduate and four undergraduate students.

— Contact Rebecca Layne at