IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Residential Academic Program Spotlight - SHIP
Residential Academic Programs (RAPS) can be found in residence halls all across campus, connecting diverse students with similar interests while promoting extensive understanding in a vast range of subject areas. In this series, we explore these innovative programs that provide many undergraduates with close social and intellectual communities and shared learning and living experiences. Part seven of this series features the Smith Hall International Program.
The Smith Hall International Program (SHIP) grasps the reality of global citizenry.
Approaching its 10th year, the program fosters an internationally adept community for first-year students by promoting international understanding and recognizing global interdependence.
Housed in one wing of Smith Hall in the Kittredge complex, the year-long program currently holds around 100 students.
As the director of the Office of International Education, Larry Bell also directs SHIP. “As an administrator, you can get detached from students if your only interactions are occasional. So getting to know the students in SHIP personally intrigues me the most,” he said.
In order to provide a common academic experience, students enroll in one of two required courses during the fall semester. SHIP also offers an optional course that students can elect to take in the spring semester.
The program’s international focus offers participants the opportunity to learn about and appreciate the many countries and cultures of the world. Every month, the program selects a different area of the world to highlight and organizes events and activities dedicated to the culture.
SHIP hosts a regular dinner series as well. Faculty share their international experience followed by a catered dinner themed to the same global region.
“Faculty members come in to talk about their research and the academic area and geographic location of their work,” Bell said. “The series helps the students connect directly with faculty, and it also adds a layer of culture. We try to rotate around the world so students get a taste of many areas.”
Additional co-curricular activities include field trips to local spots like the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art and interactive sessions such as dance classes and knitting lessons. SHIP also sponsors a variety of intramural sports teams.
Students can apply to become a SHIP mentor and remain in the program for an additional year. These students play a key role in developing the SHIP community by helping new students adjust to the program and organizing and facilitating events.
“Each year is different based on the ideas of the mentors. We all have different backgrounds, abilities, and connections,” mentor Sara Jelley said.
The junior Japanese major has started a SHIP Japanese club and organized events that allow students to become acquainted with the Japanese culture. Jelley also plans to participate in a new direct exchange program, which will enable her to study abroad in Japan.
“I really feel I have this opportunity because of the connections I have with SHIP and the Japanese department,” she said. “SHIP is an amazing resource for people who are interested in international affairs.”
The RAP serves all types of students who hope to travel to different parts of the world for either academic or employment purposes.
“We do a lot of work to prepare students for studying abroad and even having international careers,” Bell said. “Our intention is to expose them to the big, wide world that they will be entering.”
SHIP’s wide focus fosters avid interaction and discussions within the intimate community, Jelley said.
“There are many different perspectives, which brings a lot to the program. Students, faculty, and staff have so many interesting stories and experiences to share,” she said.
The program plans to expand with an increase of funds, implementing a broader selection of courses and more opportunities for students.
“I’d like to have more international students be a part of the program so that we can be even more broadly international than we are presently,” Bell said. “When SHIP expands into a full RAP in a couple years, we will have more space and in turn be able to hold more international students.”
The Boulder campus is a great place for international curiosity and commitment to flourish, Bell said.
He added, “CU-Boulder contributes heavily to programs like the Peace Corps and the Fulbright Program, meaning that there are a lot of international discussions going on around campus. The volume of these discussions is very loud because people hear about how positive international experiences can be.”
For more information, visit the SHIP website.
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