Woolever returns with appreciation of international proportion

February 14, 2003

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PLATTEVILLE- As UW-Platteville welcomed students back to a new semester of education and activity, Jon Woolever, a UWP sophomore, welcomed back American food, the weather and the ability to drive his pick-up truck. As strange as it may sound, Woolever listed these things as what he found noticeably different from his experience studying internationally in Dronten, Netherlands.

Woolever, a native of Wonewoc and son of Ed and Jill Woolever, returned Jan. 19 from his four-month international study experience. He is double majoring in animal science and political science with graduation expected in May 2006.

Woolever chose to study internationally because he has a strong interest in international business relations. He became involved with the international study opportunity through a one-to-one exchange relationship that UWP has with Dronten.

"It afforded me the opportunity to travel to eight different countries: the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxemburg, France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy and Poland. The natural beauty in Europe was amazing. Out the window there was always a postcard view, whether it was of little houses out in the mountains, the Eiffel Tower or the Coliseum in Rome."

Woolever lived in housing newly built for international students. He lived in a building with five units; in each unit five students were housed. Woolever had the experience to live with students from Hungary, Portugal and Poland. More than 150 international students attended the Dronten Agricultural Professional University.

"There were students there from 13 other countries. Having to interact and deal with them, I realized things about them and myself," said Woolever.

The Dronten Agricultural Professional University is poised at the edge of town near farmland and forest. The campus educates more than 1,200 students. Nearby, there are education and organic farming schools with which the Dronten Agricultural Professional University works closely. According to Woolever, Dronten, with a population of about 35,000 was founded fairly recently so most of the buildings were newer in nature.

Woolever took classes in orientation to farm management, animal health and epidemiology, pig and poultry production, dairy nutrition and animal breeding and biotechnology. These classes roughly translated into 16 credits for Woolever.

Language was not a challenge for Woolever as, in addition to Dutch, English was spoken by the majority.

"It was interesting to see how much history other countries have. Americans are closed-minded in that we think that stuff that is 150 years old is old. When you see artifacts and cities that are 500-700 years old, it really gives you perspective and an appreciation of where we came from."

Woolever feels that he has gained knowledge through the classes he took, made great contacts and friends and learned how interconnected countries really are. He was introduced to the main agricultural issues of concern in The Netherlands, which are overproduction and environmental issues, problems that exist in other areas as well.

"The world is becoming globalized and agriculture is an industry that doesn't follow boundaries. Other countries have the same problems that we do," Woolever said.

Woolever encourages students to travel and study internationally.

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