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Westminster College Student Studies in Israel for a Month

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

NEW WILMINGTON, Pa. - Westminster College student Lyndsey Vogler, a senior psychology major and peace studies minor, recently returned from a one-month internship in Israel as part of cross-cultural research for her senior capstone project focusing on parent-daughter relationships in patriarchal and egalitarian families.

While in Israel, Vogler was able to observe two of the main religions in the country: Judaism and the Muslim faith. Her host family practiced Judaism, allowing her to witness and participate in their religious and cultural beliefs and holidays. She also spent time with the Muslim community in Israel and learned a great deal about their beliefs.

"Seeing the family structures was interesting," Vogler said. "It was great to be able to observe and experience a country and its cultures firsthand after reading and studying it for so long. It is so complicated over there with so many different religions and different sects of religion. It is such a big part of everyday life."

Dr. Sherri Pataki, associate professor of psychology and coordinator of the peace studies program, is Vogler's adviser and the one to suggest that she make the trip to Israel. She helped to arrange and coordinate the trip with the support of the Youngstown Area Jewish Federation.  

Pataki also conducts research with Dr. Randa Abbas from Western Galilee College in Israel and Dr. Carey Ryan from the University of Nebraska at Omaha. They study changes in women's gender roles in traditional Arab societies as well as perceptions of the "other" between American and Israeli students.

"Lyndsey is one of seven Westminster students who have been able to travel to Israel and benefit from the partnership between Westminster College and Western Galilee College in northern Israel.  This has been an amazing opportunity for capstone students who have been able to conduct cross-cultural research in Israel while having the opportunity to immerse themselves in Israeli culture."

Vogler was able to meet with one of Dr. Abbas' students in Israel, Haya Khaldi, who is assisting her with data collection and surveys. Two students from the University of Nebraska at Omaha also joined Vogler in Israel. The three students volunteered at a kids' camp during the day, which presented a unique challenge - none of the children nor Israeli adults at the camp spoke much English and the three American students did not speak Hebrew. They overcame this by using other non-verbal ways to communicate. Each group also picked up on each other's language and by the end of the month each group had learned key phrases.

The students also volunteered at the Hafuch Center for at risk-teens, took a day trip into Tel Aviv and went drafting down the Jordan River.

Vogler has always had an interest in living and working overseas. Even though she doesn't graduate from Westminster until May, she has already filled out an application for the Peace Corps. Her time in Israel helped prepare her for an international career.

"Getting to have these different experiences feels empowering," Vogler said. "Just knowing that I can go to a different country and find my way is a boost to my self-esteem. It takes a lot of adjustment to live in another country, but doing this confirmed that I am capable and it solidified my desire to do international work."

Vogler is a daughter of Paula and Daniel Vogler of Beaver Falls and a graduate of Blackhawk High School.

The final component of liberal studies is the senior capstone course. The capstone is at least a four-semester-hour course within the major designed to provide an opportunity for students to evaluate and assess the strengths and limitations of their major field. Additionally, the capstone experience permits opportunity for structured reflection on the value of education in and beyond the major and provides another chance to strengthen communication and problem-solving skills.

Contact Pataki at (724) 946-7361 or email for additional information.

About Westminster College...
Founded in 1852 and related to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Westminster College ranks first in the nation as "Best College for Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math," according to Forbes.com. Westminster is a top-tier liberal arts college and a national leader in graduation rate performance, according to U.S. News Best Colleges guide. Westminster is also honored as one of "The Best 377 Colleges" by The Princeton Review, and is named to the President's Honor Roll for excellence in service learning.

Nearly 1,600 undergraduate and graduate students benefit from individualized attention from dedicated faculty while choosing from 42 majors and nearly 100 organizations on the New Wilmington, Pa., campus. Visit www.westminster.edu/advantage to view "Advantage: Westminster" A Strategic Plan 2010-2020.


Click image to enlarge.

Westminster College student Lyndsey Vogler (center) during an internship in Israel.