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Hendrix Students Visit Balkans for Summer Study Program

Students at Assenov Fortress, Bulgaria

CONWAY, Ark. (August 13, 2015) – Five Hendrix College students traveled to the Balkans this summer to take part in the Summer School on the Dynamics of Contemporary South-Eastern Europe.

The student group included:

  • Peter Butler ’17
  • Joshua Copeland ’17
  • Barrett Goodwin ’16
  • Sarah Logan ’18
  • Janie Sanford ’16

The students were supported by the Hendrix Odyssey Program and were accompanied by Hendrix politics and international relations professor Dr. Kiril Kolev.

“As a researcher and a teacher, it is always tremendously rewarding to take students to Central and Eastern Europe,” Kolev said. “This context provides tremendous variation in terms of lifestyle, culture, economic development and governance within a very small territory. This allows students to juxtapose theories with reality, cast preconceptions aside and discover commonalities about how people approach life and happiness that they sometimes did not expect.”

During the program, students explored issues of nation-building, democratization and European integration. The program featured participants from two other universities (Marin Barleti in Albania and the American College of Skopje in Macedonia), as well as several think tanks and foundations, including the European Union Jean Monnet Chair program.

The Hendrix group visited Bulgaria, Macedonia, Albania and Montenegro.

In Bulgaria, the highlight included lectures at the Center for Study of Democracy, the leading research think tank on governance on the Balkans, where the contemporary political and social trends in the four countries were laid out. In Macedonia, the group attended lectures that focused on the ongoing challenges that the country faces with corruption and integration of the Albanian minority. Students witnessed big anti-government protests in the capital Skopje. In Albania, the program featured lectures on the position of Albania on the Western Balkans, its opening to Serbia, and its road to European integration. The students also visited the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and met with Deputy Minister Dr. Odeta Barbullushi. European integration and local governance were the topics of discussion in Podgorica and Budva, Montenegro.

“Being able to go abroad and study the political structures and dynamics of states in south-east Europe was an incredible experience,” said Goodwin. “Any time you get the chance to go abroad it's life-changing, challenging your assumptions about the world. I certainly came back to the U.S. with a much greater understanding of what life is like in the four very different countries we visited.”

“I was able to explore them as individual communities as opposed to the stereotypical uniform ‘Eastern Bloc’ image of Eastern Europe most often found in the U.S.,” Goodwin added. “I will return to Hendrix with a renewed drive to study American politics after seeing the optimism and passion of activists all across south-east Europe tackling major issues like corruption and unfair elections head-on.” 

About Hendrix College

Hendrix College is a private liberal arts college in Conway, Arkansas. Founded in 1876 and affiliated with the United Methodist Church since 1884, Hendrix is featured in Colleges That Change Lives: 40 Schools That Will Change the Way You Think about Colleges and is nationally recognized in numerous college guides, lists, and rankings for academic quality, community, innovation, and value. For more information, visit