Travel is an integral component of the subject specialist’s work to acquire materials for the library’s collections. This travel can be as short as a few days to as long as a few months, involving a variety of tasks. Subject specialists attend book fairs and conferences, and network and communicate with other international librarians. Below are a few unique examples of how traveling plays a principal role in International Studies.
Fe Susan Go, Librarian for Southeast Asian Studies
Susan is one of the most extensive travelers in International Studies. Every year she visits the Southeast Asia region to places such as Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, and the Philippines – as an essential part of obtaining collection items for her area of focus. “I come from the countries that I study and work with, so I can put myself in the feet of the indigenous population and I can be an American if I want to be. I bring the indigenous perspective to my work by understanding the subject matter; since I know the field and the people who work in it. What’s difficult is the encountering of different languages and people that I have to meet when I travel, and really sometimes not knowing the culture of the group. I remember learning in school about Thai customs and traditions, but in practice, it is very different, and you tend to forget about those things you learn in classrooms. Those are minor cultural things that you learn from school that don’t always apply to practical things when you are in the field. When you travel, you have to reassess where you are and determine what things you should and shouldn’t do.”
Loyd Mbabu, Librarian for African Studies
Loyd often travels to Africa for teaching. The trip in this photograph and others found in the Treasures Gallery were part of the University of Michigan’s Global Intercultural Experience for Undergraduates (GIEU) program in Kenya. “It’s a great program that offers summer cross-cultural service learning within the U.S. and internationally. The program is comprised of completing a year-long UC 275 course and a field trip. All our previous three meetings were primarily health related; either conducting instruction sessions to schools or sponsoring a clean water tank project. A significant cross-cultural piece of our trips is whereby students stay with host families for about three weeks.”
Jeffrey Martin, Librarian for South Asian Studies
Jeffrey’s experience with travel plays an essential role in his work as a South Asian librarian. “I’ve actually lived in India for many years, in different areas, so I learned a lot more than just the language. That gives me quite a different perspective, and I look at things in an anthropological way, too, with my studies, so the concept of culture has always been important to me. A lot of people don’t know about my background. I think they take for granted I must know something about South Asia, but I really lived there and have real knowledge of the culture.”