International Education Week: Curtis Peterson

For International Education Week (Nov. 14-18, 2022), BHSU is highlighting several students who have had fantastic international experiences and educational opportunities. BHSU student Curtis Peterson spent his summer of 2022 in the Partnerships for International Research and Education Program (PIRE)- Germanium Materials and Detectors Advancement Research Consortium (GEMEDARC).

What were you doing while abroad?
Our Group visited the University of Edinburgh, University College London, Oxford University, Boulby Underground Laboratory.  At the University of Edinburgh we visited with a neurologist that took us on a tour of the anatomy museum.  He showed us where they used to dissect cadavers; it was very narrow so you could see downwards.  This was one of the first places where medical science was practices.  There was also pseudoscience practiced there, an art show was in progress while we were there, and the neurologist also talked to us about phrenology, a pseudoscience where they measured people’s heads and determined how smart people were depending on their head size.  This was very interesting.

At the same University, we met with a glaciologist who told us about the movement of glaciers in Greenland.  He was questioning why some glaciers moved faster than others. 

In Edinburgh, we also went to the Edinburgh Castle.  In Scotland,  we visited this graveyard where J.K. Rowlings got some of her Harry Potter characters.  We also went to the National Museum of Scotland, to the Beatrice Potter Museum (Peter Rabbit books), and then to Loch Ness. 

In England we visited Hadrian’s Wall, we stayed in the sea town of Whitby, Yorkshire, and we checked out Boulby Underground Laboratory.  There, we dressed in orange Personal Protective Equipment that included a hard hat, a jumpsuit, and boots. Sanford Lab cooperates with many different laboratories around the world.  Sanford works around the world with labs that use germanium.  Boulby Underground lab was one of those labs. 

What was the most exciting experience you had?
Best of all was Oxford.  It was an old place with a lot of new stuff.  I liked that there was one University with 45 different colleges.  Each college only had a few disciplines in at their college.  There were only a few students in each discipline.  It was interesting and different.  Students worked in pairs with a tutor on their studies.  Students don’t automatically go to Oxford.  You get your generals done and then you go there after that.  It was so different, but I liked it.

Has study abroad helped you identify future career goals? If so, how? 
I will take my experiences to my students and help them seek out programs that will broaden their perspectives in science and math like I have been able to broaden mine.  I continue to plan to be a math and science teacher back on my home reservation and to help the school I teach for build programs to improve equitable access to experiences that help broaden their perspectives and career choices.
How did your classes at BHSU prepare you for your time abroad?
My classes at BHSU and science experiences prepared me to understand the different presenters in Scotland and England.  I am very grateful to my advisors and professors for recommending that I apply for this opportunity. 

What did you discover about yourself?
I discovered that I like Europe and I would love to go back there to study at Oxford sometime.  I learned about Fulbright scholars, and I would like to apply to be a Fulbright Scholar in the future, in Europe or Asia. 

What surprised you about study abroad?
It surprised me that the college system was so different from mine.  My geology professor was from Yorkshire, and she explained how it worked, but when I was there I learned more about it. 
Would you recommend study abroad to future students?
Yes.  Everyone should leave the U.S. and see other places.  I had an opportunity to go to Italy, and now an opportunity to go to Scotland and England.  The United States has many things that other countries do not have. 
Anything else you want to share?
This opportunity was specific to Black Hills State University.  Without having been a student at BHSU I would not have had such a wonderful opportunity.  Beyond that, I might not have even known about this if my professors had not talked to me about the opportunity and recommended that I apply. 

BHSU student, Curtis Peterson, in front of a structure in England