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Study Abroad Highlights
Jeanie Pharis, a 2nd-year graduate student pursuing a Master of Science in the Fire and Emergency Management program through the College of Engineering, Architecture and Technology, participated in the CAS Emergency Management study abroad program in South Africa during the summer of 2018.
Pharis is from Enid, Oklahoma, and says while she has traveled overseas previously, it was not comparable to her study abroad experience, which allowed her to gain insights into a different country’s emergency services.
“We met with some of the key people who were part of the fires the country had a few years ago and hearing their recollection of the experience was so beneficial,” Pharis said. “Our group was also able to watch and participate in the first ever shack burn study in South Africa. Seeing this research in action was invaluable.”
Pharis spent the summer taking courses related to emergency management at Stellenbosch University. Her education extended beyond the classroom as Pharis was also able to visit shack communities to learn about the potential fire hazards.
“Learning about the communities and fire dangers at Stellenbosch University helped us get a better picture of what we were seeing,” Pharis said. “The local fire service was continually trying to improve the safety of these communities and struggled with education plans, but they consistently keep trying.”
The knowledge and skills Pharis gained during her time abroad directly relate to her ability to face issues dealing with emergency services in the U.S.
“Being able to visit another country has really expanded my knowledge of the emergency service issues we face here in the U.S. and how similar they are to those faced in other countries,” Pharis said. “I have been in public safety for more than 20 years, so learning a new perspective as an adult is priceless. Being able to see the struggles faced by the fire service in South Africa and how they solve them allowed me to gain broader insights for solutions I could use here at home.”
Pharis’s advice to other students interested in studying abroad is try it at least once as the experience can provide a broader global understanding.
“We have a lot to learn from other countries, and the experience will stay with you for life."
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