Global Initiatives update

April 9, 2021
Eimer Page

Director of Global Initiatives Eimer Page grew up in Northern Ireland, traveling the country playing viola in youth music ensembles. The experience taught her that connection with others around a common interest fosters understanding. Recipient of undergraduate and graduate degrees from Trinity College Dublin and Queen’s University Belfast, as well as a doctorate from Trinity College Dublin, Page came to Exeter in 2004 as an English instructor and was named the school’s first director of Global Initiatives in 2012.

While Exeter has offered off-campus educational programming for decades (the Washington Intern Program has run for 55 years), expanding the offerings under Global Initiatives has increased student participation. Typically, more than 400 Exonians engage in learning experiences outside the classroom each year — whether it’s studying the effects of climate change on Icelandic glaciers or building products that solve real-world problems at the MIT Innovation Academy in Hong Kong. “Exeter students see Global Initiatives as a fundamental component of their education,” Page says. “They’re keen to experience travel and develop cultural competencies. They grasp that having such experiences can be transformative."

When Exeter students are in the classroom, they’re using labs or written materials to generate discussion. When they travel, their experiences become the material."
Eimer Page, Director of Exeter's Global Initiatives

Students have access to more than 40 travel opportunities in the U.S. and across five continents, including hands-on programs, internships and faculty-led trips. Each program is designed to support Exeter’s broad academic curriculum and offer experiential immersion. An extension of the Harkness classroom, Global Initiatives programming takes students places where they can “use their skills of careful learning and cultural competencies and develop them on the road,” Page says. “It’s ideal for them to have that Harkness training before they leave. They’re approaching what they’re seeing with open minds. They have an ability to process those experiences and take them in.”

Non-sibi also factors into program development. On the service-oriented New Orleans trip, for example, students learn about Hurricane Katrina’s lasting effect on the city by rebuilding homes, gardens and neighborhood parks. “We tap into local organizations helping out with urban renewal, food insecurity and health care access so students can see how long it takes to recover from something like a Katrina,” Page says.

Department quick takes

Equity and inclusion initiatives

Despite pandemic travel restrictions, students continued to see the world thanks to new, virtual programming launched last year. In courses that spanned everything from Afro-Caribbean dance to food systems in marginalized countries, students explored topics that connected directly with Exeter’s antiracist work. After participating in Redlined Realities: Race and Housing in America, Angela Zhang ’23 noted, “It was a great opportunity to engage with peers on a topic not many of us knew about. It was challenging to grapple with concepts, not in the sense of comprehension, but coming to terms with reality.”

Student-teacher collaborations

Sharing his own passion for writing and the environment, English instructor Jason BreMiller led 12 students on a trip to Iceland. There, the group studied glaciers from a scientific, historical and literary perspective. The trip was life-changing for many of the students, who were affected deeply by witnessing climate change up close. Piya Bryant ’21 was so moved, she wrote about her experiences; her essays about her encounters won awards from a Brown University writing program.

Students pursue their passions

Janeva Dimen ’19 enjoyed studying the classics so much that she pursued travel opportunities in cities known for their ancient geography. As a lower, she studied in Bibracte, France; senior year, she traveled to Rome, Italy. From sampling fried artichokes to marveling at a Scuderie del Quirinale exhibit inspired by Ovid’s poems, Dimen gained new context and appreciation for her classical texts.

On-the-ground experiences

During a summer-term trip to the Bay Area, students were offered rare, inside access to the Silicon Valley tech world. The group participated in design-thinking workshops, visited a homeless center and toured the headquarters of Dropbox, Facebook and Google, meeting with execs, Exeter alumni and parents. JaQ Lai ’21 built on this experience and investigated his own complex relationship with technology through an Art 500 project, “Appleskin."