Education Beyond the Classroom

Honors Student Steps Outside His Comfort Zone

Nathan Carpenter

The summer of 2018 is one that Nathan Carpenter will never forget. The University Honors Program student had the experience of a lifetime studying abroad in Spain and Morocco. Although Carpenter grew up in a small Georgia town, he is curious about the world and is fascinated about other cultures and the people within those cultures.

“I hope to shape my career path in a way that enables me to travel abroad and interact with those from differing cultural backgrounds,” he said. “This experience has given me the opportunity to ‘test the waters’ and see if this path really is for me — and I believe now that it definitely is.”

Lessons Abroad

Currently, Carpenter is on a high-achieving path at Georgia Southern. He is planning to graduate as a triple major with degrees in international studies, economics and Arabic. He has decided on Spanish as his minor. In the early summer, Carpenter spent a month in Seville, Spain, at the Giralda Language Center as part of the Georgia Southern Spanish language immersion program.

“The school offered small class sizes led by well-qualified teachers, combined with cultural interaction and immersion activities,” he said. “Combined with the need to utilize the language in day-to-day life, and with my host family, my progress in Spanish was noticeable.”

From Seville, Carpenter traveled to Morocco’s capital city of Rabat for seven weeks of intense Arabic lessons.

“I found the one-on-one interaction with many of the staff at the Qalam Language Center to be very helpful as I progress in my understanding of the various Arabic dialects,” he said. “Utilizing Arabic in day-to-day life was very helpful in forcing me to use what I learned in the classroom as I lived in Rabat.”

Why did a young student from the small Georgia town of Guyton decide to study Arabic?

“To challenge myself to learn a language that not many in our area speak, and one that is more difficult than the traditional second language choices,” Carpenter said. “I also think that by more Americans learning about the Arabic language and culture, we can begin to foster improved relations between our country and that region of the world.”

Carpenter, who hopes to graduate by 2021, embarked on the study abroad programs under the guidance of two professors in the Department of Foreign Languages.

“It makes real the lessons you learn in the classroom, and allows you to put into practice the ‘global citizenship’ ideals that Georgia Southern advocates on campus.”

“Professor Youssef Salhi is an excellent professor in the classroom, but an incredible guide for our study abroad in Rabat,” he said. “His patience, willingness to guide us as we experienced his country of birth, and his friendship with his students combine to make it so that I could not ever wish for another professor or guide,” he noted.

The honors student explained his first interactions with Professor Jorge Suazo, Ph.D., occurred during the lead-up to the Seville study abroad.

“I really appreciate the depth of knowledge he has, and his willingness to offer that knowledge to us during the program,” Carpenter said. “He was an excellent faculty guide for the entirety of the trip, and went above and beyond for me personally during a difficult time.”

The undergraduate noted the other Georgia Southern students who participated in the programs “represented a cross section of the best that Georgia Southern’s student body has to offer.”

To fund his travels, Carpenter applied for and received a Benjamin A. Gilman Scholarship, a nationally competitive scholarship funded by the U.S. Department of State. He also received an honors study abroad scholarship.

Go For It!

Carpenter called his summer experience a pivotal point in his life and he encourages other students to take advantage of a study abroad opportunity.

“It makes real the lessons you learn in the classroom, and allows you to put into practice the ‘global citizenship’ ideals that Georgia Southern advocates on campus,” he said.

Even though he is a triple major, Carpenter is involved in various campus activities. He is a member of the Arabic Club, the Economics Society, the Spanish Club and the Model Arab League.

— Sandra Bennett