It was a special summer for modern and classical languages professor Dr. Roger Dowdy. Like most summers, he took a group of 25 or so students halfway across the world, introducing them to the countries, cultures and people he has spent the last two decades cherishing, but this would be his final trip.
Commemorating 20 years of travel
The Spanish city of Salamanca, where Dowdy spent many of those years including this one, made the farewell even more meaningful. City council members surprised him with a silver plaque commemorating his service, the inscription reading:
“The City of Salamanca appreciates all Dr. D. Roger Dowdy has done from Missouri State University. The realization of his intensive Study Abroad Program during 20 years. June 2014.”
Dowdy modestly put the award back into its polished wooden box to go on his office shelf and turned his attention to the students and program to which he’s devoted his life. The experiences he’s had the honor to share with them will live on through the extensive journals he requires them to keep and the relationships built between them.
“That’s probably the most driving thing with me to take students abroad. It’s not so much the language, but it’s immersing them into something that they will never forget for the rest of their lives,” he said. “A lot of students really come back a different person.”
Future of the program
Handing over the reins to the study away program he helped build will not be easy, Dowdy admitted, but after 20 summers abroad to cities across Spain, Ecuador and Costa Rica, it is time to let someone else take over, which will give him the opportunity to spend more time with his grandchildren.
“I think that it is good for someone in the department who is much younger to start going,” he said. “I have had such a passion for this, and for the person who takes over, I want them to love it as much as I have.
“That’s why I’ve hung on to it for so many years. I want [the new professor] to understand the impact it has and see it as a passion to help students. I think we have the right person for that.”
Dr. Luis Lombilla has taken over as program director and will lead next summer’s group in the month-long trip to Quito, Ecuador, beginning with orientation sessions during the spring semester to prepare for the May 24 departure.