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Elon junior writes chapter for guidebook

Many students keep little more than a photo album to share their stories from overseas college trips. Elon junior Ashley Dischinger, however, will soon have much more to show for her recent Winter Term program in South Africa – a chapter in a forthcoming guidebook on study abroad destinations.

Ashley Dischinger '10 (kneeling in blue shirt) is contributing to a forthcoming guidebook from College Prowler on study abroad destinations.

Dischinger, a journalism major from Oak Ridge, N.C., is one of 26 students nationwide contributing to a book project through College Prowler, a company that specializes in guidebooks for prospective college students written by current students.

College Prowler recruited Dischinger after its editor noticed a post she made to the class blog (http://idd.elon.edu/sasa). After a flurry of e-mails, the deal was set, and Dischinger was well on her way to becoming a published writer. The book comes out this fall.

“It fell into my lap, which is kind of ironic, because I had spent all year trying to find some sort of internship and was getting discouraged,” Dischinger said. “How many 20 year olds can say they’ve been published in a book?”

Dischinger said she addressed topics ranging from academics to nightlife to dining, devoting more than 90 hours to the task.

“There are books on studying abroad but none of them have the students’ perspective,” said College Prowler editor Bridget Joyce. “It’s different hearing it from a director of international affairs than from students who were in the program.”

From the plush lobbies of five-star hotels in Capetown, to the open windows (minus the screens) in a home where she briefly lived with an impoverished family that could not afford air conditioning, what Dischinger witnessed there changed her worldview.

“Ashley’s journal entries demonstrated that she was one of the most observant and intuitive students on the trip, which was especially remarkable because she was a sophomore at the time and perhaps didn’t have the same kind of academic experiences as her more advanced peers,” said Prudence Layne, an assistant professor of English and coordinator of the African/African-American Studies program who led the trip to South Africa.

And what has Dischinger learned from writing the one chapter?

“It takes a lot of research to do travel writing,” she said. “And I learned the importance of staying focused, because I was writing on my own schedule. I had to sit myself down at my computer and say, ‘OK, I have to stay focused.’ I learned time management.”

Eric Townsend,
7/30/2008 10:57 AM