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Resident Director Profile: Karen Hutzel

Karen Hutzel, resident director, with students in Jamaica

Program: Exploring Jamaican Arts and Culture
Location: Kingston, Jamaica 
Year as Resident Director: 2015 
Affiliated Department: Department of Arts Administration, Education and Policy

What inspired you to develop and/or lead this study abroad program?

"Several things inspired me to develop this program. First, my department has a strong history of providing study abroad programs that address culture of other countries. Second, I have been a part of a wonderful partnership with an arts college in Jamaica, and my (new at the time) department chair recommended developing a study abroad as an extension of that partnership. I thought it was a great idea, and set to work with my partner, in Jamaica, to develop it."

What did you enjoy, or was most memorable, about being a resident director for study abroad?

"I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Kingston, Jamaica through the eyes of my students. I traveled there pretty regularly for 10 years, and so it became familiar to me. It was refreshing to see how my students engaged with the culture, and reminded me of my early experiences. I also loved visiting schools in and outside of Kingston, several of which were where my former students taught art. These former students were a part of my department’s online master’s program in art education. I was able to see where they taught and how our program impacted their teaching."

Why do you think it is important for faculty to develop and/or lead study abroad programs?

Hutzel abroad in Jamaica

"I don’t feel I can answer this question for other faculty. Now that I’ve led my first trip, I can say that it was probably the best experience I’ve had with students since I’ve been at Ohio State (for 10 years). I built better relationships with my students on this trip than I have in any other experience."

How does your study abroad program raise student awareness of what it means to be a global citizen and to have global perspectives?

"My students claimed to have learned as much about themselves as they did about Jamaican culture. They encountered their own stereotypes of Jamaica and faced race head-on from a different perspective than they are used to in the United States. We were able to have open, honest dialogue about racial and cultural issues. They learned that Jamaican art isn’t the “craft” they thought it was, based on tourist experiences. And they saw art educators, art students and artists who embedded social issues into their teaching and art making, unlike in the U.S. where it is seen as a separate art form."