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Greek pre-college program put on hold

Low enrollment leads Brown to reexamine program in Naxos despite financial sustainability

A Brown-sponsored pre-college summer program on the Greek island Naxos has been “paused” due to low enrollment, said Rosario Navarro, director of language area studies and international programs.

Other international pre-college programs in Rome, the Spanish city of Segovia and Costa Rica will continue uninterrupted, she said.

Enrollment in the Naxos program “has been pretty steadily low, so we wanted to pause it in an effort to identify what we could do to strengthen the program,” Navarro said. Such efforts include comparing the University’s summer programs to those of other colleges and high schools, she added.

The Naxos, Segovia and Rome programs were founded in 2010, and the Costa Rica program was founded in 2012. In its first year, the Naxos program had eight students, but enrollment jumped to 18 students the following year and remained between 12 and 18 students through summer 2014, Navarro said.

Enrollment has varied from 27 to 37 students in the Rome program, 13 to 28 in the Segovia program and 18 to 27 in the Costa Rica program.

Despite its low enrollment, Navarro praised the Naxos program, which has received “glowing” evaluations from students.

“I’m really proud of these programs. They are life-changing experiences for these students,” Navarro said. “You’re offering the Brown experience off-site.” The international programs are staffed by Brown faculty, and current Brown students serve as residential advisors, she added.

The Naxos program focused on “the ancient world, but within its contemporary context,” said Elsa Amanatidou, senior lecturer in language studies and classics and founder and director of the program. Through a combination of classroom lessons and field trips, students learned about Ancient Greece and Byzantium and how historical concepts relate to modern Greek society, she said.

Naxos is a “unique and beautiful island” that offers a “rich archaeological past,” Amanatidou said. In the years it ran, the program had excellent relationships with the island’s residents and its local government, which allowed participants to become “immersed in the local community,” she added. The location was also void of major safety concerns.

The program was “such a rich, rewarding experience,” Amanatidou said. Throughout the summer, faculty members saw students’ understandings of the ancient world develop significantly, she said, adding that the program “was challenging, but it was also fun.”

Naxos “was definitely an experience I won’t forget,” said Matthew Chang, who participated in the program in the summer of 2014 and is now a first-year at the State University of New York at Geneseo. Chang said he is still in touch with people he met during the trip. “It’s very upsetting to hear that the program is closed.”

Chang also praised the Rome program, in which he was a student in 2013.

“It was really fun to go see different countries and live among the people, getting a taste of what it’s like to live their life,” he said. The programs were also good preparation for college life, Chang added.

Many of the participating students in Naxos wanted to apply to Brown after participating in the program, Amanatidou said, adding that a few are current Brown undergrads. “I think we were excellent ambassadors for Brown.”

Though enrollment in the Naxos program was relatively low, it attracted, “the ideal number,” Amanatidou said. “Because of the nature of the program and because of the hands-on experience … 15 was a pretty good number.”

Amanatidou added that the low enrollment was high enough to sustain the program financially, though it did not generate large profits. “Fifteen students did not make the program run at a loss.” 

Ultimately, Summer Global Programs “had a business plan — I didn’t. I was responsible for the academic content,” Amanatidou said.

Amanatidou said she has a good relationship with Navarro and others who are responsible for overseeing pre-college programs. “I would be happy to keep talking about how we can make the program fit their vision of what a Brown program should be,” she added.


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