Harry Potter study abroad program encourages empathy, social justice

Note: This Article was first published by the Daily Emerald on Sunday, Febraury 2, 2014.

The large wooden doors swung open and she staggered inside, her feet touching the stone floor. A golden, candlelit hue enveloped her. She stood gaping in wonder as sparkles danced before her eyes. The house tables for Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff were set. Lifelike mannequins resembling professors Dumbledore, Hagrid and Snape were positioned on the podium in the front of the room.

Not unlike Harry in his Hogwarts debut, Claire Tweedy was aghast as she stood in the Great Hall for the first time as a participant in the University of Oregon’s “Harry Potter in the UK” study abroad program last summer. Though she only stood on the set of the Harry Potter film series in the Warner Brother’s Studio in London, she compared her personal experience to a scene right out of  “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.”

“It was nice as a college student to revisit something that was such a big part of my childhood,” Tweedy said.

Officially named Fantasy on the Fringe, the study abroad program is led by Roger Adkins, associate director of study abroad programs in the Office of International Affairs. It’s a month-long program where students study fantasy literature and pop culture in London and Edinburgh, Scotland.

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