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Morning Sun
  • PATRICK'S PEOPLE: Pittsburg State student Mandy Folk to study in Canada

  • Canada is a close and good neighbor of the United States, but getting there turned out to be a complicated procedure for Mandy Folk, Pittsburg, a Pittsburg State University junior art education major.

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  • Canada is a close and good neighbor of the United States, but getting there turned out to be a complicated procedure for Mandy Folk, Pittsburg, a Pittsburg State University junior art education major.
    However, she has triumphed, and will be spending the fall semester at the University of Victoria in British Columbia, Canada.
    “It’s been two years that I’ve been working on this,” Folk said. “There aren’t a lot of programs for people wanting to go to Canada. Most people who want to study abroad usually want to go to a  more exotic place.”
    “PSU doesn’t even have a study abroad program in Canada,” noted Megan Corrigan, PSU assistant director of international programs and services. “Mandy had to petition to get permission to spend a semester in Canada, and had to work with the registrars, Financial Aid and her academic advisor to get approval to spend the semester off-campus. She found the University of Victoria with the help of Portico Bowman, her art professor, who is from Canada, and had to apply as a visiting student to the university. This required a tremendous amount of self-motivation and direction.”
    “There were forms upon forms I’ve been filling out for months, and deadlines I’ve been attempting to meet,” Folk said. “Megan Corrigan has been absolutely phenomenal in helping me coordinate this, and Portico Bowman has been a huge advocate for me going.”
    She also applied for and received a $5,000 Killam Fellowship, a national scholarship that fosters educational exchange between America and Canada.
    Her Canadian semester will start Sept. 7 and the last day of school will be around Dec. 2.
    “I’m really excited,” Folk said. “It’s going to be different.”
    A Pittsburg High School graduate and daughter of Eric and Milissa Folk, she hasn’t traveled much or been exposed to many different cultures, but became interested in Canada.
    “Canada contains such a rich history embedded deep within everyone who lives there,” Folk said. “There are many aspects of art history in Canada that intrigue me.”
    She will focus her studies on the art work of the Haida Gwaii, a Native American tribe.
    “They’re the people who do totem poles,” Folk said.
    One of the most famous modern Haida Gwaii artists is Bill Reid, whose artwork “Spirit of Haida Gwaii” is featured on the Canadian $20 bill. In addition to the totems, Haida art is also seen in dugout canoes, hand-crafted gold and silver jewelry and even cartoons known as Haida Manga.
    Folk hopes to visit the Haida Gwaii Islands, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, to view cultural sites there.
    “I’ll be staying on Vancouver Island, and that’s only a 20- or 30-minute ferry ride to Haida Gwaii,” she said.
    Page 2 of 2 - Folk hopes to teach elementary school art after her graduation, and believes her Canadian studies will give her more to give her young students.
    “As an educator I will give children an exposure to a native people far removed from what they know by showing them the importance of maintaining cultural identity through art,” she said. “The ideas and knowledge of the indigenous people, in particular the Haida, and of those people living in Canada today would come back with me to be shared with all who would listen, and broaden their horizons as it will mine.”
    Folk is aware that, in these days of budget cuts to education, art-related classes areoften considered expendable. Nevertheless, she intends to continue pursuing that dream.
    “If this whole process has shown me anything, it’s that I’m tenacious and I willpersevere,” Folk said.

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