Black Hills State University students and faculty are increasingly pursuing international experiences as a part of their education. BHSU is also establishing a growing number of international exchange programs and expects to enroll nearly 50 international students this fall from 23 countries. This group of BHSU students and faculty recently traveled to China. Front row, kneeling, Ben Reiter, Rae Morgan, Jill Kary, Holly Downing, Hillary Wittenhagen, and Tyffani Squires; second row, Aric Bakeberg, Rachel Hobbs, Brian Engler, Andrea Nelson, David Post, and Bobbi Looney; back row, Deaver Traywick, Christian Nsiah, and Jamie Richey.

Black Hills State University students now have increased opportunities for international experiences. Students note that international travel and interactions with foreign students who are attending BHSU change their view of the world and their place in it.

As a part of BHSU’s commitment to provide a global perspective for students, the University offers students a growing number of international experiences and has established several cooperative agreements for students from other countries to study at BHSU.

Dr. James Slate Fleming, director of the office of international studies at BHSU, notes that international experience is critical to prepare students to succeed in the global economy and provides experiential learning opportunities that will transform lives.

“Our students need to learn and understand, from not only a classroom perspective, but a social and a personal one as well, that the United States embraces diversity. Exchange programs are pathways to understanding the concept of globalization from an experiential perspective,” Fleming says. “Traveling abroad and developing relationships at home with visiting international students is one of the best ways to learn about the cultures, religions, ethnicity, languages, traditions, and customs of those individuals and countries with whom we now have relationships, and those in the future with whom we will partner within our global society.”

Nearly 50 students from 23 different countries are planning to study at BHSU this fall. Fleming expects that number to continue to increase and predicts BHSU could have as many as 100 international students in two years.

About half of the international students coming to BHSU this fall are from the three universities that BHSU has established exchange programs with: Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, Lithuania; Kyung Hee University in Seoul, Korea; and Sichuan Normal University in Chengdu, China. Fleming notes the agreements allow for students from these universities to attend BHSU and for BHSU students to study at the other three universities.

Two different groups of BHSU students traveled internationally this summer. A group of 10 BHSU students, along with five faculty and staff members, took a two-week trip to China, logging over 2,500 miles inside the Asian nation. According to Deaver Traywick, director of the writing center at BHSU, the trip to China gave students first-hand exposure to social and economic conditions, as well as increased cultural awareness of the most populous nation in the world. The itinerary included many historical and cultural highlights of China. Participants also had the opportunity to visit with local university students to learn more about these students’ daily lives and professional plans. Several students completed independent study courses associated with the trip, earning credit toward their degrees at BHSU.

Arik Bakeberg, a mass communications student from Rapid City, says the expedition to China was the most amazing experience of his life and definitely changed his perspectives and goals.
Another group of BHSU students recently returned from a two-week trip to Australia and New Zealand. Highlights of this tour included: a visit to Australia’s largest city, Syndey, with visits to the famed Opera House, the Sydney Harbour Bridge, and museums; a stop at the Gold Coast where BHSU students joined students from Vermont and Georgia for activities; a visit to Underwater World on the Sunshine Coast and the world’s largest sand island-Fraser Island, using a catamaran; as well as a stop at Auckland, New Zealand’s largest urban area.

“Expanded horizons certainly resulted from these exposures to foreign countries with different cultures. Some of these students had never left the shores of the United States before,” Dr. Roger Miller, associate professor of geography, says.
Several other BHSU students, most of whom are pursuing a minor in Spanish, have chosen to spend a portion of the summer or a semester in Spain or Mexico. Several students have studied in Granada, Spain, this summer and several others are already making plans for the Granada summer program next year.