I never thought that I would eventually end up being at Iowa State University teaching or advising students...but I feel that I am here for a purpose to motivate students not only to be successful academically but also to become global citizens.
I deeply believe that it is very important to explore what opportunities are out there, beyond those with which one is familiar. By leading study abroad programs I feel that I am helping students realize that it is worth learning about things they were not aware of.
Students should consider studying abroad because it is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is a rare time in your life when you can freely travel, make friends, and learn all at once! I wish I had the opportunity when I was an undergrad.
As a department chair, I don’t get to interact with that many students, and the travel course provides a way to connect in a meaningful way with them. It is always energizing to spend time with them. And I think it is great for them to learn a bit more about me and what I do as department chair.
It is extremely fulfilling to see the excitement in the eyes of the students as they climb onboard the boat after a snorkel or scuba dive on the coral reefs. Students’ have often commented that this study abroad course was a “a life changing experience.
I feel very fortunate that I can lead these types of programs, because I try to incorporate things that I learn in France into my classrooms back on the ISU campus. I think that providing a broader perspective enriches what I am able to teach.
Students should study abroad to learn about themselves and others in the world, to appreciate what they have but learn what others also have, to get out of their comfort zone, to leave something of themselves behind in a service learning trip, etc.
It’s a unique experience to interact with our students on a one-on-one basis and give them a unique and important educational and life experience. In addition, it is an opportunity to visit, learn, and build or maintain connections with another country (or show students about your home country, as in my case).
Every time I travel abroad, I am reminded that there are so many different cultures and each culture has their own way of doing things. I have also had the opportunity to learn first-hand about agriculture and different farming techniques around the world.
As a student, I participated in travel programs to Europe, Puerto Rico, and Costa Rica. These experiences were life changing, expanded my world view to consider perspectives of other people, allowed me to think about how global events impact people around the world, and completely changed my career path. As an instructor, I want to make those same opportunities available to my students and continue learning about the world to improve my courses.
I lead programs because they are easy to do, they are fun to do, and they result in tremendous student learning – both professionally and personally. They are also highly valued by ISU’s leadership (President, Provost, Deans, etc) and by the students who enrolled.
I’ve certainly gained a broader perspective on global natural resource challenges through my participation in study abroad. I’ve also learned a lot about myself – how to interact with students in an outdoor setting, better communication skills, etc.
After I went on my first study abroad trip as a student, I never stopped traveling again. I love to see the same thing happen to the students on my trips.
I have learned that the long term impact on students is immeasurable. I am still in touch with many of my former students that traveled abroad with me and all our talks still revolve around the places we visited and the things we saw.
Some of my most enriching experiences with students and student learning has been on study abroad programs, where students are able to experience and reflect about life in a different place with a different environment and culture.