On the occasion of its 25th anniversary in Differdange, Raymond Manes and Stephanie Shaheen from the Miami University John E. Dolibois European Center (Mudec) highlighted recent accomplishments and plans for the future.
For Mudec, Miami University’s study abroad centre in Luxembourg, things are back to normal. In fact, the programme has even more students than expected. “Right after covid, we said that we would try to get 110 [students],” said executive director Raymond Manes. “We are at 110 this semester, and we will be at 120 next semester.”
Despite lower enrolment, challenges obtaining visas, and travel restrictions related to the covid pandemic, the programme never actually stopped. “It doesn’t make sense to have a study abroad programme online,” Manes declared. “So our main concern was how to continue with the programme.” In-person courses and study tours continued to be held, allowing students to make the most of their time in Europe.
Students were still able to travel, both individually and as part of Mudec-organised study tours. “The students who were here that semester talked a lot about how all of their friends at home in Ohio were online,” added Stephanie Shaheen, Mudec’s associate director. “They kept saying, ‘But we’re in Europe! We’re going to class, we’re going to French bakeries, and we’re having takeout because we can’t eat [at the restaurants]. But we’re still having a European experience.’”
Manes noted, however, that there is more anxiety among students following the covid crisis. “They get anxious very quickly and they really need to be guided very carefully,” he said. “So we spend a lot of time talking to them and explaining things.”
Gaining professional experience in Luxembourg
Differdange has developed a lot in the past years, the executive director remarked. A lot of small businesses have emerged, opening up the possibility for students to do internships, including during the summer. Working for an international company in a diverse setting is an important addition to students’ CVs, emphasised Manes, and helps make Mudec more attractive.
The first pilot was a student-teaching programme at the international school. “They are completely integrated into the international school, being shadowed by a professor, working with a professor, giving classes for his or her students,” Manes said, highlighting the advantages of the programme.
Benefits for Differdange
It is not only Differdange that provides opportunities to Mudec students–the university has also contributed to the city’s development. Speaking at Mudec’s 25-year anniversary celebration, education minister Claude MeischClaude Meisch (DP) stated, “I am extremely pleased to see the value that Mudec brings us in terms of intercultural exchange. Many students live with local host families, participate in learning opportunities at local schools or nonprofit organisations while living in Luxembourg, or carry out internships at local organisations or companies.”