Rio’s Dotson to study in Wales

Business Management sophomore Claire Dotson.

RIO GRANDE, Ohio – Not everything can be learned in a classroom. Some things simply must be experienced.

For most University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College students those extra curricular lessons come courtesy of residence life, the multitude of on-campus activities and organizations or the various hands-on training elements built into most academic programs.

For Claire Dotson, however, those lessons will come more than 3,714 miles from home.

“I’m really excited about everything,” said Dotson, who is participating in the Madog Center for Welsh Studies’ Welsh Student Exchange program this fall at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David in Carmarthen, Wales.

The Business Management sophomore flew out on Sept. 16 and will return home Dec. 15. In that time she will complete her Associate’s Degree and soak up all the Welsh culture she can.

The exchange includes the required Orientation Program ($40) and Cultural Program ($242). The weeklong intensive orientation includes two trips, while the Cultural Program includes eight trips throughout the semester around and outside of Wales.

Dotson is the only Rio student participating in the exchange program this year, but more than 100 combined students from the partner institutions have participated since the Madog Center was established in 2002. Rio students typically spend the fall in Wales, while Trinity students come to Rio for the spring.

Rio sends up to six students each fall. Applications for fall 2014 are due by April 1 and can be downloaded from the Madog Center website or picked up in person. Students must complete the application, submit two recommendations (one faculty, one advisor), have a minimum 2.5 GPA with a copy of their transcript and interview with the exchange committee.

“The Welsh Student Exchange is a marvelous program; just a wonderful opportunity to experience all aspects of life and learning through another perspective,” Madog Center Director Jeanne Jindra said. “Students not only experience the intricacies of another culture firsthand, but they also gain a greater appreciation and understanding of our own culture in the process. Claire is going to have a magnificent time.”

Tuition costs for the program are no higher, as students pay the rates of their home institution. Jindra said that “means they can access their financial aid.”

Room and board is paid through the host institution, with students responsible for airfare. Costs fluctuate due to currency exchange rates, but Trinity’s 2014 Accommodate Fee is roughly $2,288. Airfare typically ranges from $1,000 to $1,500 depending on numerous factors.

Dotson plans to have a roommate while living in the Trinity residence halls to better acclimate to her surroundings, but said the option for a single room was available.

“To understand yourself is to understand what you are and are not capable of; to experience things outside your comfort zone,” Dotson said. “You learn more about yourself the more experiences you have. I think everyone should have some change in their life.

“The little things you do, like going out to a restaurant, walking down the street, taking part in group activities and just doing the things that are part of everyday life are going to be learning experiences,” Dotson continued. “This is just the best thing I could possibly imagine for me.”

Dotson also was the recipient of two $500 travel scholarships the Madog Center helped secure. The Welsh Society of Central Ohio made her the inaugural recipient of their Travel Scholarship, which requires Dotson to keep a journal and write an article for WSCO’s Dragon Tales newsletter upon return. She also will travel to Cincinnati for a meeting of the Welsh Society of Greater Cincinnati, who awarded her their Margaret Reiss Memorial Scholarship.

More information regarding scholarships are available through the Madog Center website.

Exchange students also are required to have a passport ($135 plus passport photo), an Accommodation Bond ($322 returned at end of term), airport pickup ($40) and a Student Union Card ($20, required international student ID).

“This is one of those things that you just have to do,” Dotson said. “People want to get from point A to point C, but in order to do that you have to experience point B; you just can’t skip anything.”

For more information about the University of Rio Grande/Rio Grande Community College visit or call 800-282-7201.