Two dozen faculty, staff, trustees, and family members spent three days in the Netherlands last month to celebrate the 30th anniversary of Kasteel Well, Emerson College’s flagship study abroad program.
The trip, which ran March 20–23 and included tours of the Rijksmuseum and EYE Film Museum in Amsterdam and a tour of the castle itself, culminated in a Celebration Dinner with the governor of Limburg province, the mayor of Well, and dignitaries from the American Embassy in The Hague.
“It was a really wonderful moment to reflect where we’ve been in 30 years, and also to be excited about the future of the castle and the program,” said Anthony Pinder, assistant vice president of internationalization and global engagement.
Kasteel Well, a 14th-century castle in a small village in the southeast corner of the Netherlands, has been offering Emerson students liberal arts courses and excursions to cities across Europe since the 1980s, making it the longest running example of the College’s global reach. It started with eight students, Pinder said. Today, up to 85 students per semester come for an intensive global experience, served by more than 40 faculty and staff members.
“Moving forward,” Pinder said, “we’re trying to create spaces and open spaces up to students and colleagues all over the world.”
As an example, Pinder said the College has created two new summer programs to students and academics from Hong Kong: a new travel writing program and a new Berlin program, during which students spend two weeks at the castle and two weeks in Berlin.
It’s not unusual for American colleges or universities to own satellite campuses abroad, Pinder said, “but I think it is unusual for a school our size, and to be so successful at this operation for so long.”
Susannah Marcucci, program coordinator for the Office of Internationalization and Global Engagement, made her first trip to the castle and the Netherlands.
The weather was gloomy and chilly, she said, but the castle was “absolutely gorgeous,” and they got to meet students and hear about their travels and studies. One student, Mimi Warnick ’18, talked about a class she took on trauma and literature, and about how interesting and perspective-altering it was to read about events in Europe while in Europe, Marcucci said.
“That was kind of what we hope for when students go abroad, that they address old issues in a new way,” Marcucci said.
Warnick, a Theatre Studies major, said via email that she felt doubt when people told her that the castle experience would change her, but she thinks she has changed, for the better.
“While [Emerson students’] drive and motivation is incredible, I believe sometimes in the stress of the semester we are not being the best versions of ourselves,” Warnick wrote. “Taking a semester to step back and see the big picture is so important. You get to learn about the world and how you fit in it.”