Harding University offers its students a number of opportunities to study abroad, and currently has seven programs: Greece, Australasia, Florence, Latin America, London, Paris and Zambia.
Junior Chandler Pruitt had the opportunity study in Florence, Italy, last spring. Pruitt describes her experience as “perfect.”
“The greatest part about living abroad is that not all is what you expect,” Pruitt said. “You have expectations in your brain about how it is going to be, but when you show up, it is completely different. I realized that God knew exactly what it was supposed to be. It was exactly what I needed at the time.”
Jeffrey Hopper, dean of international programs, said he enjoys watching students grow spiritually, emotionally and socially as they work their way through our various international programs.
Harding celebrated 30 Years of Harding University Florence (HUF) in 2010, according to Hopper. HUF is their oldest program and is featured in a mural in the lobby of the David B. Burks American Heritage Building.
“We ordered that photo (of Florence) so that people could have their photograph made in front of it during the celebration,” Hopper said.
Director of Alumni Relations Liz Howell asked if it could be displayed in the Heritage lobby, and it has remained since.
Ashel Parsons, the international program administrator and photographer, said the purpose of the programs is to represent students in other cultures. Parsons also said that studying abroad is an eye–opening experience.
“There are so many different cultures,” Parsons said. “There is a lot to learn from different people in the way they live. I appreciate the perspective that has given me. I keep in mind that there is a lot more out there.”
Pruitt said the friendships that she made while in Florence had the greatest impact on her.
“You live with the same people for three months,” Pruitt said. “I got out of my comfort zone, I learned a lot about people … And once you come back, you take a little piece of their culture with you.”
For Hopper, interacting with other cultures, languages and traditions has a special richness.
According to Parsons, whenever she travels she focuses on students interacting with the culture or the landscape.
“I’m always impressed more and more with our programs,” Parsons said. “Because I see the opportunities that students are given when they decide to study abroad.”