College welcomes Bjerklie-Barry as new Director of Study Abroad

Janelle Fassi, Crier staff

Over the summer, Director of Study Abroad Sarah Keefe left her position at the college. Right before the end of the spring semester, Keefe took a new job with a study abroad and urban immersion program at another school. Despite the rumor that Keefe put in her last notice amid the layoffs, the former appears to be the case. Although the school has hired a new study abroad director, students weren’t able to get the assistance they needed over the summer. Living on your own in a foreign country without contact from family and friends is difficult enough. Imagine doing it without the only person separating you from your life abroad.

Erin Egan is a junior Politics major with a Russian and Archaeology double minor at Saint Anselm. She has been planning on going to Orvieto for the upcoming spring semester.

The program that the college’s Office of International Programs offers in Orvieto is one of the most popular sites for students interested in going abroad. Students get to travel with their peers and work with the college’s own Professors David George and Linda Rulman, who have moved permanently from the Manchester Hilltop to the majestic rock cliffs of Orvieto. Erin has been looking forward to going abroad for a while now, but Keefe’s absence has put a damper on her plans.

“Since the school waited so long to hire someone new, we haven’t been able to work on our plans all summer,” Egan said.

Keefe’s sudden absence did not significantly alter Egan’s plans. However, the period between Keefe’s departure and the hiring of new Director of Study Abroad Jane Bjerklie-Barry made it more difficult to for Egan to have her questions answered before making the trip of a lifetime.

Orvieto has always been part of her Anselmian experience. Egan is active in the Classics Society and takes part in the summer dig with Professor George and Professor Rulman.

“The Orvieto program didn’t change because of Professor George and Professor Rulman,” Egan commented.

For other students, navigating options without Keefe hasn’t been easy.

“I feel like I’m lost,” said a junior at Saint Anselm. “I was planning on going somewhere else with a different program, and since I didn’t have the director to guide me, I had to pick somewhere else that was feasible to go.”

She initially planned on going to South America, but chose Orvieto instead under the guidance of her friends.

This junior continued: “I wish Sarah Keefe could have helped me to go to a different country… Italy was my last choice because I wanted to go to a place that not many people wanted to study abroad.”

Each student has different reasons for studying abroad, whether it’s drinking their way around Italy or snorkeling the Great Barrier Reef. Some want to learn about a specific culture or become proficient in a specific language. Some want to study the sustainable growth of developing countries. Others just want to study abroad for the experience: to go on adventures and make everlasting friendships.

“Going to Italy instead of somewhere else won’t help me learn Spanish. Other people at Saint As would be there, but it’s not something I would have considered without Sarah leaving.”

However, Keefe’s departure wasn’t the only blame on this decision: “It was multiple reasons and not just Sarah Keefe leaving. I worried I couldn’t get the paperwork done on time. I didn’t speak enough Spanish, [but] it would have been nice to go to Latin America to practice.”

Both juniors marvel over the idea of spending Easter at the Vatican. Egan looks forward to going on the summer dig and remains optimistic about the future of study abroad.

Egan said, “I haven’t had a chance to meet the new study abroad director, but I think she will be just as great.”