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Students Study Abroad in South America, New Zealand and Europe

BROWNSVILLE, TEXAS – MAY 16, 2012 – Senior psychology majors at The University of Texas at Brownsville Jessica Carmona and Laura Esquivel have fully packed summers ahead of them, starting with a study abroad trip to Brazil, where they arrived on Monday May 14, after travelling for 24 hours.

Along with Carmona and Esquivel are Amanda Valencia and Miguel Flores, also psychology majors. The foursome is being accompanied by Dr. Jared Montoya, Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Behavioral Sciences Department, who has lived in Brazil where he taught English to corporate executives at a language school in São Paulo.

Study abroad group at Templo Zulai, a Buddhist temple in Cotia. 
Left to Right: Dr. Jared Montoya. Jessica Carmona, Laura Esquivel, Miguel Flores and Amanda Valencia visited Templo Zulai, a Buddhist Temple in Cotia, near São Paulo, Brazil. 

“Travelling to Brazil will be my first time outside the U.S. or Mexico,” Carmona said. “I know the experience will broaden my cultural perspective immensely.”

As future psychology researchers who will be graduating with their bachelor’s degrees in May 2013, Carmona and Esquivel participate in the Minority Biomedical Research Support, Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS RISE) program. One of the many advantages of the program includes summer research experiences at research intensive institutions.

Carmona, a 2010 Brownsville Porter High School graduate, begins her MRBS RISE summer internship immediately upon returning from Brazil. She will first attend a week’s training in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California Department of Behavioral Sciences. With the USC group, she will travel to Puebla, Mexico, to conduct research in psychological disorders.

“I am grateful to have been selected as an intern with USC,” Carmona said. “To be learning alongside the USC students and interns, as well as interacting with students at the Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla – this is all first-hand experience that is so necessary for my future studies.”

Esquivel, a 2004 graduate of Harlingen High School South, will also participate in an MBRS RISE summer internship after returning from Brazil. She will be researching anxiety and mood disorders with Dr. Augustine Osman at The University of Texas at San Antonio.

“I am interested in universal behaviors, and the time in Brazil will enable first-hand observation in this area,” Esquivel said. “Following this with working with Dr. Osman, researching mood disorders, substance and alcohol abuse will be a tremendous experience for me. I know I am going to learn so much over this summer.”

In Brazil, Montoya is conducting an intensive three-hour credit course, Cross-Cultural Psychology; the group will spend most of their time in São Paulo, considered the largest metropolitan area in the southern hemisphere with a population of about 22 million people.

Visiting markets, parks, museums and churches throughout the city, the group will study the highly ethnically diverse population with a focus on etics [Encarta Dictionary: making use of preestablished categories for organizing and interpreting anthropological data, rather than categories recognized within the culture being studied] and emics [Encarta Dictionary: relating to the analysis of structural and functional elements of language or behavior].

Study abroad group at the colonial town of Embu. 
The group visited the colonial town of Embu, an enclave for artists and artisans as well as a favorite spot for weekenders and tourists.

Among the areas they will observe, discuss and write about are socialization, enculturalization, gender roles, language and art. Another aspect they will study is organizational culture. Students have been granted a special meeting in São Paulo with Ricardo Fernandez, Managing Director for General Mills Brazil.

“We are so pleased that Mr. Fernandez agreed to meet with our group,” Montoya said. “His insight into organizational culture in this diverse population, as well as throughout Latin America, will be invaluable to our students.”

Three other study abroad groups are departing Brownsville this week. Among them is a class in photojournalism taking place in Eastern Europe with Dr. Sharaf Rehman, Chair of the Department of Communication Studies. The group will visit Prague, Czech Republic, and Krakow, Poland, from May 17–31.

Another group, biology students, is departing for New Zealand, where they will study the ecology and conservation of marine mammals and birds in New Zealand from May 15–30 with Dr. Tim Markowitz, UTB visiting professor in the Department of Biological Sciences.

The fourth May group will head to Costa Rica; from May 15–30 they will study special topics in environmental rhetoric with Pamela Herring, Department of English Assistant Master Technical Instructor. The students will reside at the lodge of Hacienda Barú National Wildlife Refuge, 815 acres that encompass a wide range of ecosystems.

A mid-summer study abroad in Paris will take place July 7–30, directed by Dr. Suzanne Lalonde, Assistant Professor of French in the Department of Modern Languages.

For more information on summer study abroad programs, visit the Office of Global Engagement or call 956-882-7092 or global.engagement@utb.edu .


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