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Appalachian Study Abroad Group Meets with Welsh Parliament Member

061303studyabroad_dl.jpgBOONE–A group of Appalachian State University students studying the politics, culture and economy of Welsh society recently meet with Dr. Hywel Francis, a member of the Welsh Parliament.

The students, led by Dr. Patricia Beaver, director of the Center for Appalachian Studies at Appalachian, visited communities in the Afan, Dulais and Swansea valleys as part of their studies into community change in industrial areas.

“I believe these kind of exchanges are essential for better international understanding,” Francis said. “Since my period at Swansea University in the 1970s when I began to develop links between local mining communities in south Wales and Appalachia, I have been convinced of the importance of this kind of community learning.”

Francis was elected to the Welsh Parliament in June 2001.

The study abroad course focused on the political, cultural and economic transformation of Welsh society in historical and anthropological contexts. The course included an ethnographic study of rural community change and renewal, internships with local organizations in the village of Ystradgynlais, oral history interviews with community activists and elders, presentations on Welsh history and culture, participation in social and cultural events, and observation of political activity associated with the National Assembly for Wales.

“I hope that in the future, groups and students from our localities will be able to visit and learn from the considerable changes now occurring in the Appalachian Mountain region in the United States,” Francis said.

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Picture Caption: Appalachian State University’s Patricia Beaver, left, met with Hywel Francis, a member of the Welsh Parliament, while leading a study abroad trip to Wales this summer. Beaver is a professor in the Department of Anthropology. (Photo courtesy of Hywel Francis)