The Forum on Education Abroad Recognizes Student Academic Achievement Abroad

The Forum on Education Abroad is pleased to announce the recipients of its 2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad, an award which recognizes excellence in academic work completed by undergraduate students as part of an education abroad program.

Naomi Caldwell, recipient of the 2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad


Student: Naomi Caldwell
Nominating Member: Middlebury College
Program: Middlebury-C.V. Starr School in Argentina
Project: “History and Evolution of Monuments: Buenos Aires”



Jared Belsky and Mackenzie Nelsen, winners of the 2018 Award for Academic Achievement Abroad


Students: Jared Belsky and Mackenzie Nelsen
Nominating Member: The Umbra Institute
Program: Food and Sustainability Studies Program
Project: “Cultivating Activism Through Terroir: An Anthropology of Sustainable Winemakers in Umbria, Italy”



Naomi Caldwell, a student at Swarthmore College, is being honored for her work on the history and evolution of monuments in Buenos Aires, completed at the Middlebury-C.V. Starr School in Argentina. Naomi visited multiple archives and physical sites, and held interviews throughout the city to conduct “an innovative and original study of several lesser-known landmarks, in-use buildings and monuments, and a compelling argument about how urban spaces can themselves serve as historical archives.” Naomi’s mentor, Dr. Lisa Ubelaker of the Universidad de San Andrés wrote that, “Naomi…asked questions that quickly tapped into real issues in the city, …she fully took advantage of her opportunities…, heading far outside the normal geographical terrain of the city’s visitors, and essentially building her own archive of information that will be of real use to her future research, or that of other scholars.”

Upon learning that she’d won this year’s award, Naomi wrote: “[The mentorship I received] was invaluable to my learning abroad as I felt supported and inspired to learn the history of the city through its urban archives. Interacting with so many professionals and students through my work pushed me to be flexible and humble as an outsider recording histories. I am thrilled to see my project recognized [by The Forum] and excited to continue to engage with historical research as a way to understand distinct cultures and societies.”

Mackenzie Nelsen, who studies at UNC-Chapel Hill, and Jared Belsky, a student at Hamilton College, worked together on a project while studying at the The Umbra Institute in Perugia, Italy, supervised by Dr. Elisa Ascione. The two shared of their experience: “This project was a chance for us to step outside of our comfort zones and really get to know the people and the place of Umbria. Conducting ethnographies at alternative wineries and speaking to the vignaioli introduced us to the oft-overlooked cultural/political dimensions of terroir and sustainability. Coming off of such a formative study abroad experience at The Umbra Institute, we built upon an ever-accumulating knowledge of food systems by working closely with wine, a central player in Italian food culture. We are truly honored that [The Forum] would recognize us for an experience that has already been so pivotal to our academic and personal development and we are excited to find more opportunities to do similar research.”

All three students will present their work at a plenary session at The Forum’s 15th Annual Conference in Denver, CO on March 29, 2018.

The students’ projects were reviewed by faculty members from Forum member institutions and organizations and winners were selected by the members of the Award for Academic Achievement Abroad Selection Committee, a team of dedicated and experienced education abroad professionals who will also mentor the students as they prepare for their conference plenary.

Learn more about the Award»